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Ohio Senate Bill That Bans Transgender Athletes from School Sports Could Cause Harm, Experts Say

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A bill in the Ohio Senate seeks to ban trans athletes from playing sports that align with their gender identity. Opponents of the bill say not allowing the athletes to play would be detrimental to their health.

A bill in the Ohio Senate aims to ban transgender athletes from playing on school sports teams at both the K-12 and collegiate levels.

SB 132 or the Save Women’s Sports Act is sponsored by State Sen. Kristina Roegner. If passed, it would ban trans athletes from participating in sports according to their gender identity.

Dr. Crystal Cole is the medical director of Akron Children’s Hospital's Center for Gender Affirming Medicine. She notes that trans women are required to have a year of hormone treatments before participating in women’s sports, making their levels comparable to their teammates.

“In reality, it’s not really going to be helping many female athletes, and it really has the potential to harm a great number of transgender athletes,” she said.

Cole also says athletic ability isn’t just based on sex and can include other factors such as genetics, training and diet.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has warned that state bills similar to Ohio’s would harm the mental health of trans youth. Cole is also worried about the impact this bill could have on trans athletes.

Cole on benefits of allowing trans athletes to play

“Being allowed to participate in the sports of the gender you identify with has been shown to have positive mental health effects, as well as a positive effect against preventing suicide in this population as well,” Cole said.

Roegner’s office did not respond to several requests for comment.

Abigail Bottar covers Akron, Canton, Kent and the surrounding areas for Ideastream Public Media.