‘They hate trans people’: About two dozen people show up to protest passage of bill banning transgender athletes

The bill in question would bar transgender women from participating on K-16 womens’ sports team

By: - April 19, 2021 6:22 pm

Demonstrators gather on the Montana Capitol’s steps on April 19, 2021, to protest House Bill 112 that would bar transgender women athletes from participating on K-16 womens’ sports teams.

Around two dozen people attended a student-led protest on the Capitol’s steps on Monday to urge lawmakers not to support House Bill 112, which would ban transgender women from participating on K-16 womens’ sports teams.

Along with many similar bills across the country, Montana’s bill has sailed through the Legislature on Republican support as the “Save Women’s Sports Act.”

But the overarching message Monday, from women athletes, transgender people, and a lawmaker was: The bill is not about saving women’s sports; instead, it is about further stigmatizing the transgender community.

“Trans people are the new boogeyman,” Adrian Jawort, a transgender Montana activist with Western Native Voice, told the crowd. “Montana lawmakers who put targets on our back … see our lives and realities as mere expendable pawns in the cultural war.”

One demonstrator said that HB112 makes them scared to be their true selves.

“Bills like these are honestly terrifying to me and make me scared to live in Montana,” said the Carrol College senior who asked to remain anonymous as they are not fully public about their sexual orientation. “It’s obviously not about women’s sports.”

Two Caroll College students showed up Monday, April 19, 2021, to protest House Bill 112 that would ban transgender women from participating on K-16 women’s sports teams.

Lucy Hochschartner said she was in Poland when she heard about the bill. As soon as she heard, she said she got on her computer and started writing a letter of opposition.

As a female biathlete, she said, she knew she was being used when legislatures started pitching it as the Save Women’s Sports Act.

“There are a lot of terrible things that I don’t agree with happening in the Montana Legislature, but this one, the representatives are pulling me in to, and if you’re going to pull me into it, well, I’m going to tell you how I really feel,” she said.

HB112 has received initial support from the House and Senate. However, lawmakers still need to iron out the details surrounding an amendment that calls for the bill to be considered void if it results in the federal government threatening to withhold education funding.

The concern that spurred the amendment stems from an Executive Order issued by President Joe Biden in the early days of his presidency instructing federal agencies to interpret and enforce a U.S. Supreme Court ruling from last year expanding the definition of sex discrimination to apply to Title IX.

A special committee will hash out the details of the amendment during a hearing on Tuesday. But despite what happens in the hearing, demonstrators urged Gov. Greg Gianforte to veto the legislation.

Since the bill’s introduction, opponents of the legislation and college officials have warned about the financial impact if the National Collegiate Athletics Association pulls championship events from the state as it has done in the past when similar legislation is passed.

In an April 12 statement, the NCAA reiterated its commitment to supporting trans athletes in a statement.

“When determining where championships are held, NCAA policy directs that only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination should be selected,” the statement said. “We will continue to closely monitor these situations to determine whether NCAA championships can be conducted in ways that are welcoming and respectful of all participants.”

Like many college and school athletes, Hochschartner said sports gave her a sense of purpose and a second family that served as an essential support system for her.

“No matter your gender, your race, or your class, no matter whether you play sports, we all know what it’s like to need to have people on your side and have people on your team,” she said. “It’s despicable that certain legislators are trying to rip these families apart and take away opportunities, simply because they hate trans people,” she said.

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Keith Schubert
Keith Schubert

Keith Schubert was born and raised in Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2019. He has worked at the St.Paul Pioneer Press, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and most recently, the Asbury Park Press, covering everything from local craft fairs to crime and courts to municipal government to the Minnesota state legislature. In his free time, he enjoys cheering on Wisconsin sports teams and exploring small businesses. Keith is no longer a reporter with the Daily Montanan.