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Transgender student athlete bill faces public scrutiny

A basketball sits on the court as players huddle up for halftime
Gene Gallin
A basketball on a court

In a House Committee meeting republican Representative Kera Birkeland, from Morgan, presented her Student Eligibility in Interscholastic Activities bill to the committee and the public. The bill makes adjustments for transgender students who want to play sports, and Rep. Birkeland said this bill's aim is only to help.

“Everything about this is geared to this child wanting to play in this sport,” Birkeland said.

The bill would require all high school athletes to upload a birth certificate. If a birth certificate is marked male but that student wants to play in a female designated sport, a partisan elected commission is triggered to review the situation. Rep. Birkeland said this bill helps everyone.

“The whole point of this commission is to ensure that there's no material competitive advantage, and that we are keeping everybody safe,” Birkeland said.

Some, like director of Equality Utah Troy Williams, said while this bill isn’t perfect yet, they are willing to work through it.

“We're going to stay focused on finding areas of common ground, and we hope to continue to work together to find progress,” Williams said. “Our disagreements are real, but they're not insurmountable, and as the saying goes, the only way out is through.”

But others, like doctor and mother of a transgender student Jennifer Plumb, said this bill treats children like they are the problem.

“We talk up here as if these aren't humans, the way it starts to sound. We talk as if they're a problem,” Plumb said. “My child is not a problem.”

The bill is currently on the Senate second reading calendar

Emma Feuz is a senior at Utah State University majoring in broadcast journalism with minors in sociology and political science. She grew up in Evanston, Wyoming where, just like Utah State, the sagebrush also grows. Emma found her love of writing at an early age and slowly discovered her interest in all things audio and visual throughout her years in school. She is excited to put those passions to use at UPR. When school isn't taking up her time, Emma loves longboarding, cheering on the Denver Broncos, and cleaning the sink at Angies.