HELENA — Gov. Greg Gianforte signed HB 112 into law, banning transgender athletes from competing as the gender they identify with in high school and college sports.
Supporters of the bill have said those athletes maintain an innate physical advantage even after undergoing gender transition treatment.
“Sports has categories for age, weight, skill level, and in this case sex,” Rep. John Fuller, R-Whitefish, told MTN last month. “A transgender male or female can participate in the sport of their sex, and in today’s world, no one cares what they look like.”
Opponents of the new law say transgender athletes aren’t causing problems in women’s sports – and are being targeted unfairly.
“Trans people are the new boogeymen,” said Adrian Jawort at an April 20 rally in Helena. “Our trans youth do need protecting, however, and that’s from overreaching politicians who bring up these anti-trans bills of alleged solutions looking for problems.”
"The NCAA Board of Governors firmly and unequivocally supports the opportunity for transgender student-athletes to compete in college sports. This commitment is grounded in our values of inclusion and fair competition," the NCAA Board of Governors' statement read.
The 2021 Republican-controlled Legislature approved the measure after it was amended to become void should federal education funds be withheld over the state due to gender discrimination and the state fails in their appeal.
Laws similar to HB 112 have been presented before more than a dozen states in recent years. In 2020 Idaho’s equivalent to HB 112, Fairness in Women's Sports Act, was blocked by a federal judge. A U.S. appeals court recently agreed to consider the case.