SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) — South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster signed a bill that prohibits transgender men from competing in women’s sports, following a wave of similar laws passed in eight other states.
SC Bill H4608, known as the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” is largely seen as a way of keeping transgender men from competing unfairly as women in youth sports.
The issue drew national attention after transgender swimmer Lia Thomas began to break records as a woman for The University of Pennsylvania. Legislation has followed in the wake of that controversy.
“Boys should not be competing against girls, in girls’ sports,” said Gov. McMaster after signing the bill. “It’s just common sense.”
Earlier this month, Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed off on legislation banning transgender athletes from participating in female college sports. Tennessee is one of eight states that have passed anti-transgender sports bills. These include Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Utah.
The bill passed the state senate in South Carolina this month with an overwhelming majority, 40-10.
“It is the intent of the General Assembly to maintain opportunities for female athletes to demonstrate their strength, skills, and athletic abilities, and to provide them with opportunities to obtain recognition and accolades, college scholarships, and numerous other long-term benefits that result from participating and competing in athletic endeavors,” according to the bill.
The bill states that “requiring the designation of separate sex-specific athletic teams or sports is necessary to maintain fairness for women’s athletic opportunities.”
The law would require virtually all public youth sports, including interscholastic, intercollegiate, intramural, club teams, public elementary, secondary school, and postsecondary institutions to be specifically designated for men or women.
Girls will still be allowed to play sports with boys if there is no team available for women in a sport that only has a male team.
The bill is more restrictive for boys.
“Athletic teams or sports designated for females, women, or girls shall not be open to students of the male sex,” according to the bill.
Co-ed sports are not affected by the bill.
Private schools would have to comply with the law if they compete against public schools, according to the bill.
To demonstrate an athlete’s gender, “a statement of a student’s biological sex on the student’s official birth certificate is considered to have correctly stated the student’s biological sex at birth if the statement was filed at or near the time of the student’s birth,” according to the bill.
University of Pennsylvania transgender swimmer Lia Thomas drew attention to the possible advantages males could have in female sports by breaking several records as a woman.
The NCAA has adopted a sport-by-sport approach for transgender athletes, bringing the organization in line with the U.S. and International Olympic Committees.