JEFFERSON CITY — State Rep. Chuck Basye wants to change Missouri’s constitution to ban transgender students from playing on sports teams that don’t match the biological sex listed on their birth certificates.
In an unusual move, the House Emerging Issues Committee — the committee that will hear the bill Wednesday — has agreed to let individuals testify via Zoom or phone calls to allow more people to participate.
The decision came to a vote in a hearing Monday as the committee prepared for a hearing on Basye’s House Joint Resolution 53.
The resolution aims to put to vote if transgender youths should only be eligible to participate in sex-separated sports teams of “the same biological sex included on the student’s birth certificate.”
“My thinking is that this is very harmful to especially young women that are working very hard trying to excel in a sport,” Basye, R-Rocheport, said in an interview following the committee decision.
If Basye’s resolution is adopted, it would be sent to voters to decide. They would be determining whether to add the language to the state’s constitution.
Basye recognizes the resolution will be controversial.
“I don’t want to discriminate against anybody,” Basye said. “I’m not saying these individuals can’t compete in sports, but if they want to do that, they need to either compete according to their biological sex, or they need to form their own league within the school and compete in that regard against each other and not harm these young girls.”
Basye’s proposal is part of a national effort.
Over the last two years, lawmakers in 16 other states have proposed bills relating to transgender children participating in sports. Among them are Montana, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Georgia and Tennessee.
In March 2020 in Idaho, the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act” was signed into law. In August, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against the law, ruling that the state of Idaho did not provide sufficient reasoning for the existence of the law and therefore, it is unconstitutional, as reported by CNN. In January, President Biden issued an executive order blocking such measures.
In the meeting Monday, members of the committee recognized how emotional and difficult the hearing concerning the resolution would be.
The Missourian acquired the list of those planning to testify both in support of and opposition to the bill. According to the list, 50 individuals will speak. To enable more people to testify, lawmakers agreed to allow some of them to do so via Zoom and over the phone.
Rep. Tracy McCreery, D-St. Louis, said the ability to testify remotely was specifically important to this bill because the people who the bill would affect could be at higher risk.
“We’ve heard from parents and physicians who work with transgender youth, and some of them because of medication and treatment that they’re on are considered immunocompromised, so this building would be considered unsafe for them, especially since people are not adhering to social distancing or wearing masks,” McCreery said.
Democrats have been asking since the session began for the ability to have witnesses testify remotely because of the pandemic. In one previous high-profile case last year, Rudy Guiliani was allowed to testify remotely in a hearing related to the election.
Committee Chairperson Rep. Aaron Griesheimer, R-Washington, made it clear that individuals who show up to the Capitol will be heard before those testifying virtually.