DISCRIMINATORY OR UNFAIR? House Bill 4608 sparks strong emotions on both sides

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — New bills being discussed at the statehouse have been labeled as discriminatory by LGBTQ advocacy groups in the state.

One of those bills would prohibit transgender women from participating in women’s sports.

“There are transgender athletes playing in the National Women’s Soccer League for instance. There are transgender people competing in the Olympics,” said Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Campaign for Southern Equality director.

However, those in support of House Bill 4608 believe that allowing transgender women to participate in women’s sports is unfair.

“Girls will simply be discouraged to play sports,” said Dianne Mitchell of Greenville County Republican Women Club. “Why bother? They will be forced to compete against biological males. What’s the point?”

A former college athlete herself, Jasmine Beach-Ferrara believes that the bill that bans transgender women from kindergarten to collegiate level athletics is discriminatory. 

“I would have been honored to compete and win against transgender athletes,” Beach-Ferrara said.

One mom of a transgender woman agrees with her.

“The South Carolina governor and legislators should be focusing their energy on human rights. One of the 10 basic human rights is the right to equal treatment,” said Deb Foreman, UpLife Outreach Center director. “This legislature continues to try to diminish these rights by continued attempts to pass discriminatory legislation that harms transgender youth.”

Some parents in support of House Bill 4608 feel differently. 

“There is a difference between XX and XY chromosomes,” said one father at Thursday’s press conference.

Legislators and constituents alike are on both sides of the bill, but it ultimately did not pass into law last session.

“It was defeated six times last year. We fully expect it to be defeated this year,” Beaach-Ferrara said.

The bill’s sponsor in the house, Representative Ashley Trantham, believes some of her colleagues are now on her side of the bill.

“They’ve changed their minds on the vote. They want another chance to vote on it,” Rep. Trantham said. “I’ll add that it probably doesn’t hurt that it’s an election year. They want to make sure their constituents know they did the right thing.”

She admits that transgender youth in the state face issues such as discrimination and mental health struggles due to bullying, but is firm in her stance that allowing transgender women in sports is not fair to those born as women.

“There’s definitely a biological difference. We cannot compromise women’s sports over that,” Trantham concluded. 

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