COLUMBIA, S.C. — A committee in the South Carolina House rejected a bill Tuesday that would have prevented transgender students from playing on girls’ sports teams in middle and high school.
The House Judiciary Committee tabled the bill without a recorded vote, likely dooming any chance it has of passing in 2021.
South Carolina was one of more than 20 states considering restrictions on athletics or gender-confirming health care for transgender minors this year. Mississippi’s Legislature has already passed the sports ban and similar proposals are winding through other conservative legislatures in states such as Alabama and Tennessee.
The ban’s death in South Carolina was swift. Republican Rep. Micah Caskey asked for the measure to be tabled less than three minutes after it was introduced and Republicans could not get enough support to take a recorded vote.
Caskey said his problems started with the bill’s introduction. It stated there are two biological sexes and that the sex of a person is objectively determined by genetics and anatomy at the time of birth.
“That is a commentary on gender identity, well enough. But a matter of urology, that is just not the case,” the West Columbia Republican said. “Physiologically, some people as a percentage of the population don’t develop that way.”
Caskey said supporters of the bill failed to show it was a problem that lawmakers needed to solve instead of the officials who run high school sports in the state.
The bill would have required all athletes in South Carolina to play on teams based on their “biological sex” listed on their birth certificates.
“This bill is very simple. It just prevents biological males from competing in girls sports,” said Republican Rep. John McCravy of Greenwood as he introduced the bill at Tuesday’s meeting.
Supporters of the proposal, called the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” said girls might lose playing time or college scholarship possibilities if transgender athletes were allowed on their teams. But they also said there have been no complaints of transgender students playing on girls’ teams yet.
State Education Superintendent Molly Spearman made an unscheduled appearance at a hearing to speak against the bill earlier this month.
The independently elected Republican said she supports the South Carolina High School League’s policy to consider any issue individually. The organization has no ban in place and there is no need for the General Assembly to step in, she said.
Spearman said her responsibility is to make sure every child feels protected and she believed “this bill does damage to that.”