Republicans are trying to force House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to bring an anti-transgender bill up for a vote.
While the last-ditch effort to get a vote on the bill before the midterm elections will likely fail, it shows the commitment of the GOP to attacking transgender equality and what their agenda may be should they take the House of Representatives in the midterm elections.
Last year Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL) introduced H.R. 426, which would require state and local athletics organizations to limit participation in girls’ and women’s sports to girls and women as defined “solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth.”
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The bill hasn’t come up for a vote in the Democratic House, but Republicans are signaling to their voters that this is a key issue for the party by pushing a discharge petition to bring the bill to the floor despite opposition from Speaker Pelosi.
Currently, the petition has 187 signatures, short of the 218 needed for it to be successful. All the signatures so far have been from Republican lawmakers; 89% of GOP Congressmembers have signed it. It can’t get 218 signatures without some Democrats signing.
But just the existence of the petition shows the sea change on the right when it comes to banning the handful of transgender girls and women who participate in school sports in the U.S. Anti-LGBTQ activist Terry Schilling told The Hill that Republican elected officials wouldn’t even talk about the issue a couple years ago, and now they want it to be a major wedge issue in the midterm election.
“We were having a hard time getting Trump to say anything about it,” he said. “You fast forward to today, and it’s a litmus test for being a Republican, and it’s a litmus test for being able to rise to the national stage.”
And Republican lawmakers are saying that they’re willing to push the issue when they get more institutional power in D.C.
“I’m confident that this will remain a priority for our conference after 2022,” said Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN).
Opponents of the bill argue that it would further stigmatize the already vulnerable youth, denying them the educational benefits of sports while marking them as second-class students and targets for bullying in schools.
Moreover, it’s unclear how school districts, athletic associations, and state governments will implement the bill. They would be asked to identify transgender students in order to deny them opportunities under the threat of losing federal education funding. Several states have already considered – and Idaho passed – legislation that would require genital examinations for girls and women to participate in school sports.
Steube’s bill contains no language banning states or schools from using forced genital or DNA exams on girls and women who want to participate in school sports.