Mary Souza 01

Governor Little recently signed into law H500, the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act. The focus of this bill is to protect women’s sports for women and girls. Rep. Barbara Ehardt, from Idaho Falls, was the primary sponsor of the bill and I was the Senate sponsor. We worked tirelessly for months to get the right language and support from other legislators as well as outside groups.

Way back in 1972, Title IX was signed into law specifically to give women equal opportunity in sports. It started to level the playing field for girls. But now there is a new crisis. Girls who have been working and training in their sport are suddenly confronted by biological boys who want to compete against them.

In many areas of sports, biological males who identify as women are taking top spots, trophies and scholarships. Girls aren’t just losing the opportunity to win prizes, they are losing their dreams and being told their feelings, aspirations and goals are not as important as those of others; that their rights are, once again, being relegated to a subservient, secondary position. It is not fair. H500 is commonsense protection for Idaho girls and women.

The bill establishes three types of teams for state funded schools, based on biological sex:

  1. Males, men, or boys;
  2. Females, women or girls; or
  3. Coed or mixed.

Athletic teams or sports designated for females, women, or girls shall not be open to students of the male sex.

The biological differences between men and women are scientifically proven. Men have more and stronger muscles, longer and stronger bones, larger heart and lungs, more oxygen-carrying hemoglobin in their blood, and lower body fat percentage. Their pelvic structure is narrow and deep, creating more direct alignment of their legs and knees, where a woman’s pelvis is wide and shallow, causing an inward angle from her leg to knee. All important factors in sports competition.

Is there a difference between biological sex and gender identity? Yes! They are two different issues and should not be interchanged. Science proves that biological sex is determined in utero by sex chromosomes. Every cell of our bodies holds this information and it does not and cannot change. Gender identity, however, can change.

This difference was perhaps best described by a trans woman who wrote a letter of support, last month, for keeping women’s sports for women only: “I am a trans woman, that is to say I was born male but live and identify as female...Our gender identities are not under attack (by this bill) because the distinction in athletics is not based on one’s gender identity, but sex, and those are very important distinctions. It is also worth noting that the conflation of gender identity and biological sex is something we in the LGBTQ+ community have worked tirelessly to clarify and overcome for the last few decades…one thing we can all agree on is that gender identity is not bound to our biology, rather it is a deeply personal sense of oneself, and is therefore unquantifiable. However, sex IS quantifiable, and in the subject of sports it is especially relevant.”

She goes on to describe the many biological differences that give unfair advantage to biological males in sports. But here’s the key message from this trans woman: “We need not disparage the truth of biology in order to respect a person’s gender identity. If we are honest with ourselves, it stands to reason that the best way to ensure fair competition among women is to preserve the time-tested standard of accepting only biological females in our female athletic competitions.”

Idaho’s Fairness in Women’s Sports Act has established that our state is standing up for women and girls, and I am proud and honored to have been part of this process.