Transgender youth, their family members, and representatives of a variety New Hampshire organizations testified Tuesday against a bill that would ban transgender girls from competing on girls' sports teams in public high schools and colleges in the state, saying it is discriminatory and unconstitutional.
"Playing soccer has always been the highlight of my day each summer and fall," said Lane Joslin, a transgender girl who is a high school sophomore.
She recalled when her team, the Phillips Exeter Academy girls junior varsity team, lost a big game last year and cheered each other up after listening to Miley Cyrus' "Party in the U.S.A."
"Our mood shifted from miserable to joyful," she told the House Education Committee. "I loved every minute of it — sharing the sting of the loss, trying to figure out what we could've done better, and a short time later, getting over the pain and simply loving being teammates. It is one of the most cherished memories. Please don't deny other transgender girls the opportunities to have these experiences."
Rep. Rick Ladd, R-Haverhill, who chairs the committee and is the prime sponsor of the bill, said if enacted, it would support opportunities for girls as enacted in Title IX, the U.S. federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs, "not biological men who claim to be women." He also said it would strengthen a state anti-discrimination law protecting students in public schools.
"Boys generally tend to be bigger, taller, stronger, and faster than girls, can jump higher, and strike balls with greater force, all of which gives boys an advantage over girls in sports," Ladd said.
Ladd said requiring sex-generated teams to include people of "self-proclaimed gender identity that does not match the biological gender" would quite possibly reverse the steady increase women's participation and interest in sports because of Title IX.
Ladd said his bill isn't discriminatory and offered this as an alternative to where transgender athletes could play sports: “If we’re going to have young men who say they are women or vice versa then perhaps they should have their own league.”
New Hampshire is one of more than 20 states that have introduced bills proposing restrictions on athletics or gender-confirming health care for transgender minors this year. Conservative lawmakers are responding to an executive order by Democratic President Joe Biden that bans discrimination based on gender identity in school sports and elsewhere. Mississippi is posed to become the first state to enact a law banning transgender athletes from competing on girls' or women's sports teams.
Organizations including the ACLU-New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Women's Foundation and the New Hampshire Legislative Youth Advisory Council pointed out the bill is unconstitutional, could result in New Hampshire losing federal funding for education, and would further isolate and exclude transgender youth who just want to play sports and be accepted.
Others against the bill testified that at least 50 school districts in the state have adopted policies for transgender students and athletics and that the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association is committed to providing transgender student-athletes with equal opportunities to participate in its athletic programs.
"Boys who transition to girls may begin medical treatment at different stages," testified Dr. Gwendolyn Gladstone, representing the New Hampshire chapter American Academy of Pediatrics. "Before reaching puberty, boys and girls do not differ in height, muscle or bone mass." She said there is no evidence that boys who have begun to transition to girls at this stage have any advantage in athletics.
During Tuesday's hearing, only one other person among the over 30 who testified spoke in favor of the bill, a woman who said "we deserve better than to have our spaces in sports taken over by boys and men."
NBC10 Boston's Katherine Underwood contributed to this story.