Parents of the girls who got second and third place in a sporting event filed complaints to have the first-place winner investigated for her gender. The first-place girl is cis.
David Spatafore of the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) is in charge of enforcing the state’s new ban on transgender girls participating in school sports as their gender. While he wouldn’t reveal the sport she played or the school she attended in order to protect her privacy, he said that he was forced to investigate her gender after the parents of two losing student-athletes complained.
He said that he also received some other complaints about her, including one that said, “That female athlete doesn’t look feminine enough.”
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“The school went back to kindergarten and she’d always been a female,” Spatafore said.
LGBTQ advocates have been warning for years that transgender sports bans could be used by the families of losing student-athletes to attack winners. Some states, like Idaho, require genital examinations in their sports bans. Such requirements would have subjected the student under investigation to an unnecessary and invasive examination.
Utah passed its transgender sports ban earlier this year and this case is one of the first to test the law. Spatafore said that school records are enough to satisfy the law’s requirements “because if all of the questions about eligibility were answered by the school or the feeder system schools, there was no reason to make it a personal situation with a family or that athlete.”
Spatafore said that UHSAA is trying to follow the new ban.
“Quite frankly, this is new ground for us,” he told the Deseret News. “I’m not going to say that we have it down pat, because I have no clue. I don’t think any of us in the office have a clue if we have it down pat. What we want to do is we just want to try to do our job.”
The state legislature passed H.B. 11, the transgender sports ban, earlier this year. In March, Gov. Spencer Cox (R) vetoed the bill, saying that it “will likely bankrupt the Utah High School Athletic Association and result in millions of dollars in legal fees for local school districts.” The legislature overrode his veto.
In June, the families of two transgender girls in the state filed a lawsuit challenging the sports ban, arguing that the bill was “based on unfounded stereotypes, fears, and misconceptions about girls who are transgender. It is not supported by medical or scientific evidence.”