Alabama Bans Biological Men from Competing in Women’s College Sports
On Tuesday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) signed legislation prohibiting biological males who identify as transgender from competing in women’s college sports. The bill’s ratification marks the latest in a swath of legislation nationwide aimed at protecting fair play in women’s sports.
The Alabama law is the second measure enacted in the state in the last two years designed to protect female sports. In 2021, the Yellowhammer State put into practice legislation stating that girls’ sports in grades K-12 are limited to biological females.
According to Fox News, Alabama is one of 20 states nationwide that have put in place guidelines prohibiting biological males from competing in women’s sports in recent years. The wave of legislation comes as an increasing number of biological males are being allowed to compete in women’s sporting events, resulting in at least 30 women’s titles being claimed by biological men over the last 20 years, with the vast majority of those male wins occurring in the last four years alone.
“Look, if you are a biological male, you are not going to be competing in women’s and girls’ sports in Alabama,” Ivey said in a statement. “It’s about fairness, plain and simple.”
Alabama State Rep. Susan DuBose (R), the bill’s sponsor, was equally frank about the need for the legislation. “Forcing women to compete against biological men would reverse decades of progress that women have made for equal opportunity in athletics,” she said last month. DuBose went on to add that “no amount of hormone therapy can undo all those advantages” of being born male.
Still, some media outlets are claiming that the argument that biological male athletes have physical advantages over female athletes has “little basis in science,” as declared by the San Francisco Chronicle on Tuesday. But a 2020 study on transgender-identifying biologically male athletes found that even after two years of taking hormones to suppress their testosterone, they still retained a 12% advantage over female athletes in running tests. In a separate Canadian study that found similar results, the authors stated, “Testosterone suppression does not remove the athletic advantage acquired under high testosterone conditions at puberty, while the male musculoskeletal advantage is retained.”
A growing chorus of prominent women athletes and sportscasters have added their voices in support of fair play in women’s sports. In response to biological male transgender-identifying swimmer Lia Thomas’s claim that it’s “transphobic” to limit women’s sports to biological women, Grand Slam tennis champion Martina Navratilova was blunt: “NEWSFLASH Lia — it’s not fair. We shouldn’t have to explain it to you over and over. Also — stop explaining feminism to feminists.”
After ESPN commentator Samantha Ponder recently admitted that she has had “so many [people message] me, stop me in the street to say thank you [and] tell me stories [about] girls who are afraid to speak up for fear of lost employment/being called hateful,” USA Today’s Nancy Armour claimed Ponder was promoting “bigotry.” But ESPN colleague Sage Steele came to Ponder’s defense, tweeting, “Pathetic attack on a WOMAN who is simply fighting for WOMEN in sports … Stay strong @samponder ..this is a lonely fight, but it’s worth it.”
It appears that the fight is becoming less lonely, as another ESPN commentator, who has since left the network, acknowledged that “as a woman … [it] was huge slap in the face” that ESPN celebrated Lia Thomas during Women’s History Month. Meanwhile, Riley Gaines, a former championship swimmer for the University of Kentucky, has become the face of the growing movement to protect women’s sports.
Mary Szoch, director of the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council and a former NCAA Division I athlete, expressed support for Alabama’s bill protecting women’s collegiate sports.
“I am so grateful for the new Alabama law recognizing that it is unfair and unsafe for men to play women’s sports at the collegiate level,” she told The Washington Stand. “Sports are meant to teach life lessons, but when we allow men to play women’s sports, the only life lesson we’re teaching is that women will always come in second. I look forward to the day when all 50 states follow Alabama’s lead.”
Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.