Georgia High School Association blocks transgender athletes from playing sports that conform with their gender identity

Unanimous vote will base eligibility on gender assigned at birth

High school athletes in Georgia will now have to compete in sports based on their gender assigned at birth, the state’s governing body of athletics unanimously voted on Wednesday afternoon.

The Georgia High School Association voted 62-0 to enforce that all athletes must abide by the sex listed on their birth certificate. The GHSA was given the power to make that decision after state lawmakers passed an 11th-hour law on the final day of the legislative session to grant it that power.

The law, House Bill 1084, passed the Georgia House 98-71 and then cleared the Senate on a 32-21, both on party line votes. Gov. Brian Kemp signed that bill and six others into law on April 28.

Kemp gave his endorsement of the GHSA’s measure Wednesday, saying he was “proud to have championed this effort in Georgia.”

“Following my signature on HB 1084, the Georgia High School Association today voted to protect fairness in school sports by unanimously approving youth to compete according to the sex determined on his/her birth certificate,” Kemp tweeted.

“I’m proud to have championed this effort in Georgia!”

Previously, in bylaw 1.47 of the GHSA, the association stated “The GHSA will honor a gender determination made by a member school. The GHSA will not make gender identity determinations nor entertain appeals of the member school’s determination.”

In a statement sent to News4JAX from the Democratic Party of Georgia, spokesperson Max Flugrath said the decision was a classic case of “extreme partisan politics” that will hurt children.

“Brian Kemp’s use of state-sanctioned bullying of Georgia’s trans youth as a campaign strategy is unconscionable. By paving the way and pushing for this hateful policy, Kemp is showing that he doesn’t care about Georgians — he’ll always put extreme partisan politics and his political career over our best interests, even if it means hurting our kids and dividing our communities. Kemp has proven time and again he’s too dangerous and extreme for Georgia — we deserve real leadership,” the statement said.

The transgender debate has become a political hot button topic across the country, with numerous Republican-governed states banning it entirely and Democratic-controlled states allowing it. There are similar bills to allow or to block transgender athletes currently in motion across the country.

There is no federal law on transgender athletes that applies uniformly across the country. Instead, states can determine what happens.

In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed SB 1028 into law on June 1, 2021, on the campus of Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville. That bill became law last July and became referred to as the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.

That law overrode the existing policy of the Florida High School Athletic Association, which had been in place since 2013-14. The FHSAA had just 11 athletes apply to compete under bylaw 16.8, labeled Gender Identity Participation. The FHSAA said when DeSantis signed that bill into law that all 11 athletes had been approved to play.

How other states rule for transgender athletes

StateAllowed to playGov. party affiliation
AlaskaLeft up to each schoolRepublican
ArizonaYes, but determined by Gender Identity Eligibility committeeRepublican
ColoradoStudents must inform school of their intentions and have it verifiedDemocrat
ConnecticutLeft up to school districtsDemocrat
DelawareLeft up to school, but allowed to compete based on gender identityDemocrat
IllinoisDetermined by state associationDemocrat
IndianaDetermined by state associationRepublican
KansasLeft up to each schoolDemocrat
KentuckyForbidden unless “legally reassigned”Democrat
LouisianaRequires hormone therapy or sex reassignmentDemocrat
MaineCan compete based on which gender they identify asDemocrat
MarylandLeft up to local school districtsRepublican
MassachusettsCan compete based on which gender they identify asRepublican
MichiganCase-by-case basis for transgender girlsDemocrat
MissouriOnly if hormone therapy has been in place for a year or moreRepublican
NebraskaOnly if hormone therapy has been in place for a year or more or had surgeryRepublican
NevadaLeft up to individual schoolsDemocrat
New HampshireLeft up to individual schoolsRepublican
New JerseyYesDemocrat
New MexicoNoDemocrat
New YorkSchool determines eligibilityDemocrat
North CarolinaReferred to Gender Identity Committee for reviewDemocrat
North DakotaTransgender girls eligible after one year of hormone therapyRepublican
OhioDetermined by hormone therapy policyRepublican
PennsylvaniaLeft up to individual principalsDemocrat
Rhode IslandLeft up to individual schoolsDemocrat
South CarolinaMust go through gender identity eligibility advisory boardRepublican
South DakotaNoRepublican
VermontLeft up to individual schoolsRepublican
VirginiaDetermined by committee and reviewRepublican
Washington, DCLeft up to individual schoolsDemocrat
West VirginiaNoRepublican
WisconsinLeft up to individual schoolsDemocrat
WyomingLeft up to individual schoolsRepublican

About the Authors:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.

Joy Purdy co-anchors the 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. newscasts with Tarik Minor and the 11 p.m. weeknight newscasts with Kent Justice.