JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri lawmakers on Tuesday again debated whether transgender girls should be allowed on girls sports teams.
The Senate Emerging Issues Committee considered six bills Tuesday to restrict transgender athletes.
Sen. Ben Brown, R-Washington, said his legislation would “protect opportunities for women and ensure a level playing field.”
“In no way is this issue meant to slander, bully or disparage any member of the transgender community,” Brown said.
But Rep. Greg Razer, D-Kansas City, said the bills were meant as a politically divisive wedge issue.
“Some think tank somewhere decided that this was a good wedge issue for campaigns,” said Razer, the only openly gay member of the Senate. “They’ve been using our community for years to do this.”
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The Senate Emerging Issues Committee didn’t vote on any of the six bills on Tuesday.
Tuesday’s hearing following a marathon hearing last week in the House General Laws Committee, which considered legislation to limit transgender athletes, gender-affirming health care for minors and drag shows.
Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, said last week Republicans were united behind transgender athletes legislation.
Missouri’s current public high school sports rules already prohibit transgender girls from competing on girls teams unless they have undergone at least a year of hormone therapy and continue taking medication to maintain their hormone levels.
The Missouri State High School Activities Association requires transgender athletes to apply and submit documentation of medical care in order to compete as the gender with which they identify.
A spokesman for the association said 13 students have been approved since the organization adopted the rules in 2012, including only four transgender girls.
In addition to Brown, other Senate sponsors of bills targeting transgender athletes are Sens. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg; Tony Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville; Holly Thompson Rehder, R-Sikeston; Jill Carter, R-Granby; and Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.