Senate Backs Bill Banning Trans Girls from Girls’ Sports; Sen. Ricciardi Collapses Before Vote

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State Sen. Denise Ricciardi, R-Bedford, collapsed before the vote on HB 1205, but was reportedly conscious but excused for the rest of the day Thursday.


CONCORD – A bill about girls sports in grades 5 to 12 which would require they show a birth certificate verifying they were female at birth or other “evidence” to play on girls teams, passed the Senate on Thursday.

The vote was 13-10 with Sen. Denise Ricciardi, R-Bedford, excused from the vote, after suffering a medical event just prior to the roll call vote. She was conscious, witnesses said when she left the chambers with medical attention.

Sen. Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, Senate President thanked the quick medical attention by Sen. Sue Prentiss, D-Lebanon, a paramedic and Michelle Flanagan, house nurse and Concord EMS for their quick response.

The bill had been debated for almost an hour with fairness and whose fairness is at play at the core of the debate. Ricciardi did not participate in that debate.

Advocates said House Bill 1205 will provide safety to girls and would be more fair than the current policy which the NHIAA leaves up to school districts to set policy. Some girls may miss out on scholarships or titles, they added.

It would not apply to the college level but would apply to public girls sports in grades 5 to 12 and private schools which would like to compete.

“All we ask for is for safe and fair play,” said Sen. Ruth Ward, R-Stoddard.

Liz Canada, Advocacy Director of Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund responded:

“The anti-abortion and anti-transgender movements are inextricably linked: both hinge on restrictions on our bodily autonomy. The politicians behind these attacks don’t support freedom or safety – their agenda is compliance and control. We are deeply concerned with the NH Senate’s vote to pass a statewide ban on all transgender girls playing girls’ sports.

“These athletes are girls: their teammates know they are girls, their coaches know they are girls, their friends know they are girls, and their parents know they are girls. This is a blatant attempt to target transgender individuals in New Hampshire, particularly transgender teens. We urge Governor Sununu to show his support of our most marginalized young people and veto HB 1205.”

Opponents said they thought the bill was discriminatory, vague, opening schools up to litigation and might possibly require girls to show their genitals to the school nurse or others to play if they cannot verify their sex at birth.

“What about the rights of privacy for our children?” said  Sen. Becky Whitley, D-Hopkinton. “What about our rights to privacy?”

“This bill assumes and what we have heard in this debate here, that participation in youth sports is a zero sum game,” she said. “That’s not the way youth sports happens.” 

“This is about inclusion.”

Whitley, who is running for the District 2 Congressional seat being vacated by U. S. Rep. Annie Kuster, noted a Washington Post report which showed school hate crimes have quadrupled in states where these measures have passed.

“This is already a very vulnerable group of students,” she said. “Why are we allowing national rhetoric meant to divide us to enter this body?” 

Currently the NHIAA allows each school to determine their criteria on transgender athletes. 

There are currently five transgender girls playing middle and high school sports, said Sen. Debra Altschiller, D-Stratham.

“Ultimately there is no evidence that trans girls have a categorical advantage,” said Altschiller. 

“Transgender girls are girls,” she said. 

She invoked the words of 15-year-old Parker Tirrell, of Plymouth Regional High School, who told a Senate committee “I am not a physical threat…I play soccer because I love the sport….it is disheartening to hear lawmakers pushing for discriminatory measures,” she said “why is my safety any less important than my peers?”

Her mother also told the committee the participation is not about dominance but inclusion, Altschiller said noting zero scholarships have been awarded to transgender New Hampshire high school athletes.

She said there are a very small number of trans youths “and the truth of the matter is those five girls are not a threat, they are the threatened. If you really want to protect girls, protect trans girls.”

Sen. Bill Gannon, R-Sandown, who has been a coach and whose children have been student athletes said there is a safety component and a large amount of strength, size variance at that age between the biological sexes, particularly trans students who have not done hormone therapy early in their life.

“You are putting girls in danger,” he said, with the current policy.

Sen. Donovan Fenton, D-Keene, said the courts keep siding with transgender athletes and the bill, if passed, could open up the states and school districts to litigation. He said it would also target some of the most vulnerable.

Sen. Bradley said he thinks there are people that hike better than he does and it is not always fair, “but we try to do the best when designing laws to make sure it is fair.”

He noted in 2018 he voted in favor of an expansion to the state’s anti-discrimination law which adds LGBTQ+ people for inclusion for public accommodation, housing and employment. 

He called the bill a narrow carve out to that law that protects the rights of girls.

“We can’t cover every single circumstance,” he said in the 2018 legislation.

“Biological boys have an unfair advantage,” he said. 

And he asked, is it fair for middle school athletes and high school athletes on supposedly all-male or all-female teams to have to share locker rooms? 

“Whose rights are being denied then. The right to privacy of women,” he said.

Sen. Cindy Rosenwald, D-Nashua said sports are a lot more about learning than winning and the lessons learned are about being in groups and learning to lose.

“This is all about nothing,” she said.

The bill already passed the House on a narrow vote. It is sent to third reading to be finalized at the end of the day’s session and then could be on its way to Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican who signed into law the anti-discrimination extensions for LGBTQ+ persons. He said Wednesday he will be guided in his decision to veto or sign the law based on fairness and safety.

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