Neal Mug

Jeff Neal

We should be fair to everyone. Agreed?

This newspaper — and myself, individually — openly supported the Fairness Ordinance which was proposed last year in the City of Somerset. We supported the first Chill Out and Proud Festival, which was held downtown by the LGBTQ community last fall.

We did this because we firmly believe that all people should get a fair shake— and we know that often minority groups do not.

But the whole fairness thing can be flipped when it comes to transgender females competing in girls' high school sports.

And the Kentucky General Assembly is taking a long look at trying to prevent a tipping of the athletic scales.

High school and college athletes in Kentucky would only be allowed to compete in sports that align with their biological sex — and not their preferred gender identity — under a bill that a state lawmaker filed last week.

Sen. Robby Mills, R-Henderson, introduced the "Save Women's Sports Act." A bit dramatic, I know. But Mills brings up an issue that is not without merit.

While there have been no legal snafus over transgender females competing on the prep level in Kentucky, there is a growing list of potential problems around the country.

Just last week, a 17-year-old transgender student completed an undefeated season Saturday by winning a controversial Texas state girls' wrestling title in an event clouded by criticism from those who believe the testosterone the student is taking in the transition from female to male created an unfair advantage.

Last June, three Connecticut girls who run high school track filed a federal discrimination complaint saying a statewide policy on transgender athletes has cost them top finishes in races and possibly college scholarships.

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, which governs high school sports in the state, says its policy follows a state anti-discrimination law requiring students to be treated in school according to the gender with which they identify. That means that athletes can compete according to their expressed gender identity as opposed to their sex assigned at birth.

The Kentucky bill calls for the exact opposite — students can only participate in sports and use athletic facilities that correspond with the sex listed on their birth certificates.

If a student's birth certificate has been edited or if the student's biological sex is officially challenged, then the student would have to undergo a medical examination performed and signed by a physician, physician's assistant or advanced practice registered nurse.

The examination would establish the student's sex based solely on "internal and external reproductive anatomy," testosterone levels and an "analysis of the student's genetic makeup," according to the bill.

"Girls deserve to compete on a level playing field," said Christiana Holcomb, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, the group representing the three Connecticut athletes. "Women fought long and hard to earn the equal athletic opportunities that Title IX provides. Allowing boys to compete in girls' sports reverses nearly 50 years of advances for women under this law. We shouldn't force these young women to be spectators in their own sports."

The Kentucky High School Athletic Association has a policy in place that allows transgender student-athletes to compete free from discrimination based on sexual orientation. However, the policy requires transgender athletes to undergo sex reassignment surgery either before or after puberty in order to compete in sports based on their gender identity. If reassignment surgery occurs after puberty, then transgender student-athletes in Kentucky must demonstrate that they've taken or are taking hormone therapy "for a sufficient length of time to minimize gender-related advantages in sports competition," according to the KHSAA policy.

Keep in mind there are females who have played football right here in this community. The school simply made provisions for this athlete to dress and undress separately from her teammates. Problem solved.

If a boy identifies as a female, there's no reason why this student could not play boys' basketball. Allow them to dress and undress in different quarters — there's no reason why they can't be a part of that team in every other way, providing you have an open-minded administration, coaching staff and group of players.

As far as I'm concerned, gender fluidity causes very few problems. Just accept people the way they are and treat them the way you'd like to be treated.

But in athletics, a biological male simply has clear physical advantages over females.

So if we allow biological males to compete in girls sports, they will have unfair advantages. That's just science.

And it's not fair.

JEFF NEAL is the Editor of the Commonwealth Journal. Reach him at jneal@somerset-kentucky.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jnealCJ.

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