NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Rep. John Ragan (R - Oak Ridge) introduced a state bill in the Tennessee legislature that would prevent transgender women from playing on women's teams in higher education settings.
The bill, H.B. 1894, says that higher education institutions would only be able to determine gender with the sex listed on a person's birth certificate, as long as the certificate was created near the time of their birth. If students provide documents originating later than that, they would also need to provide additional evidence about their sex.
The bill explicitly prevents transgender women from playing on women's sports teams but does not place similar restrictions on men's teams or on coed teams.
The bill also restricts government agencies or athletics organizations from opening any investigation over complaints about the restrictions to women's teams.
The bill would also give other students on women's teams the ability to sue the school if they allow transgender women to play on a team and they experience "direct or indirect harm."
The bill would also explicitly give students and their guardians the ability to sue public schools for injunctive damages if they feel the school does not follow the policy generally. They would be able to sue for any reason related to the anti-transgender legislation for up to a year after an incident, according to the bill.
If passed, the bill would take effect on July 1, 2022.
A similar bill was passed into law that restricts who can play in high school teams, barring transgender students from playing on teams aligning with their gender identity. A Farragut student and his family sued Tennessee in Nov. 2021 over that law after the student was restricted from trying out for the boys' golf team.
They called that law "a solution in search of a problem," saying lawmakers could not identify an example of how transgender students' participation in sports limited opportunities for cisgender students.
The Tennessee Equality Project, an advocacy organization that works to protect LGBTQ+ rights in the state, also released a statement on the bill. They warned that the bill would harm children, taking away their equal opportunity to express themselves.
The statement can be read below:
Transgender people are Tennesseans too; these laws are a continuation of a culture war where plenty of kids will be hurt but none will be helped. We are stripping Tennessee students of an equal opportunity to express themselves, learn, and just be kids.