HARRISBURG — Members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives cast a 115-84 vote Tuesday to adopt a bill that designates sports by biological sex and prevents transgender women from competing in women’s sports.

The bill calls for sports — primary school, high school, college, club and intramural — to be designated male, female and coed, or mixed. It would apply to athletics teams that are publicly funded and those that compete against teams supported with public funds.

House Bill 972, or the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, moves to the Senate for consideration, where a similar bill, Senate Bill 1191, is already pending. Should either pass through the General Assembly, Gov. Tom Wolf pledged to veto them.

“It won’t get past my desk,” Wolf wrote on Twitter while members of the House debated the bill.

Instead, Wolf called on legislators to adopt House Bill 300, which would amend the state Human Relations Act to add protections against discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.

Opponents, including transgender-rights advocates, condemn the legislative proposal as discriminatory and unnecessary. Supporters say the legislation is necessary to prevent unfair advantages in competition and the erosion of gains in equality made in the past 50 years under the landmark anti-discrimination law, Title IX.

Organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) decried the action.

At least 12 states in the U.S. have laws similar to the one proposed in Pennsylvania, with Alabama, West Virginia and Arkansas among them. Utah’s Legislature overrode a veto by the state’s Republican governor in March to enact similar legislation.

Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) currently allows individual school principals to determine the participation of transgender athletes. It does not keep a record of how many transgender athletes play high school sports, a representative said previously.

Four Democrats voted in favor of the bill: Reps. Frank Burns, Cambria County, Ed Neilson, Philadelphia County, Mark Rozzi, Berks County, and Chris Sainato, Lawrence County. Rep. Todd Stephens, R-Montgomery, was the only Republican to vote against the bill.

House members spoke in support or opposition for 1 hour, 20 minutes before casting votes.

Rep. Barbara Gleim, R-Cumberland, is the bill’s primary sponsor. Cosponsors are Reps. Valerie Gaydos, R-Allegheny, Martina White, R-Philadelphia, Dawn Keefer, R-York/Cumberland, and Stephanie Borowicz, R-Clinton/Centre.

Gleim restated their shared reasoning as to why the legislation is needed — that they believe it’s unfair for transgender women to compete in athletics against cisgender women because of biological differences.

Gleim cited Lia Thomas, the NCAA-title-winning swimmer from University of Pennsylvania who is transgender. Thomas was a finalist in all three national championship events she entered, including a first-place finish.

“Women lose out on a fair playing field when forced to compete against biological men,” Gleim said.

Rep. Joseph Hohenstein, D-Philadelphia, approached the microphone and paused before speaking. He said his child is transgender.

“This piece of legislation attacks my child and others like them simply because of who they are and how they choose to express their humanity,” Hohenstein said.

Rep. Kyle Mullins, D-Lackawanna, was among those who wondered why House members weren’t spending their time instead working on legislation to help schools and taxpayers.

When the Education Committee approved the legislation late last month, minority chair Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, said legislators should “stay in our lane” and that the bill was beyond their scope. White challenged that assertion.

“This is very much in our lane. and to be clear, it is the responsibility of government to address sports inequity. In fact, Title IX is just that — government becoming involved to address inequity,” White said.

Rep. Paul Schemel, R-Franklin, said he believed the law would hold up in court, citing Title IX’s “express intent to preserve women’s participation in athletics.” Rep. Danielle Otten, D-Chester, disagreed, saying schools and youth sports organizations could be open to discrimination lawsuits they can’t afford to defend against. She said they risk bankruptcy.

Comments like that from Hohenstein and, later, Rep. Emily Kinkead, D-Allegheny, grew personal. Kinkead identified herself as a survivor of childhood abuse. Her cross-country coach helped protect her and played such an important role that were it not for him and the team, “there’s a real possibility that I would not be here today.”

“This is an issue that our trans youth deal with all the time,” she said, a reference to the elevated rates of depression, suicidal ideation and attempts at self-harm among trans kids.

Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Philadelphia, who is openly gay and is an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, said no one in the Legislature can relate to the experience trans kids and those who are non-binary face when coming out to their family and friends. Those same kids, he said, are being used as “political pawns.”

“There is not a thing in this world wrong with trans kids, not a thing. There is a lot wrong with hateful, cruel adults,” Kenyatta said. “This bill, HB972, is pathetic and every one of you who vote for it is, too.”

Corinne Goodwin, executive director, Eastern PA Trans Equity Project, said that even if the legislation in Pennsylvania is bound to be rejected by the governor, the legislation emboldens hate speech and is a detriment to the mental health of trans youth.

However, Goodwin acknowledged the support the trans community has in the Capitol Building and beyond. There are people who care, she said.

“Today’s the day when we need to do our best to wrap our arms around young people. The truth is they’re going to go to school tomorrow and they’ll be scared,” Goodwin said.

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