A Republican proposal preventing biological males from competing against female athletes has the backing of a former UNH sports standout — and current Democratic state senator.
“As a former player, coach, and teacher, I believe men should be competing against men and women against women,” Sen. Lou D’Allesandro told NHJournal Wednesday. “Physical differences are very important for the safety of those participating in the sport.”
The Manchester Democrat made his comments regarding SB 375, which “requires school sports teams to be expressly designated as male, female, or co-ed, and prohibits biologically male students from participating in female designated sports or entering female locker rooms.”
The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Kevin Avard (R-Nashua), was subject to passionate debate during Tuesday’s Senate Education Committee.
Avard told the New Hampshire Journal on Wednesday that while he hasn’t seen any public backing for the bill from Senate Democrats, he won’t be surprised if more colleagues from across the aisle come around to support what he considers commonsense legislation.
“This would set some guardrails, and it does let schools establish co-ed sports competition,” Avard said. “But there needs to be a level of privacy in the locker rooms.
“For centuries — if not millennia — it’s been recognized that there are two biological sexes,” Avard said. “But now everyone is being told to just drop what had been normal all their lives to genuflect to others.”
One Granite Stater who spoke against the proposal at Tuesday’s hearing was Amy Manzelli, a Pembroke mother who said her child — born a biological male — knew she was a girl “beginning at age three, as soon as she was able to string together enough words to make sentences.”
“For Christmas, she asked Santa to turn her into a girl,” Manzelli recalled. “As she got older, she wanted to wear only girls’ clothes, which she told us by making a skirt out of a blanket and begging to wear it to school. Then she wanted us to use only the female pronoun, which she told me one afternoon while I was trying to be funny by trying to use my very bad British accent. I called her ‘sir,’ and she told me to call her ‘ma’am.’”
Manzelli’s daughter, Iris Turmelle, is now an eighth-grade student. Iris also testified at Tuesday’s hearing, telling lawmakers she’s “always known I was a girl.”
“I am a female. I have a female name, a birth certificate with my female name, and a court order that says I’m female. When I think about these laws that you are considering, I feel so disgusted about humanity’s treatment of transgender youth and humanity’s treatment of me. I probably won’t use the girls’ bathroom at school anymore if this bill is passed,” Iris said.
Parents of biological females, on the other hand, argue allowing biological males to compete against their daughters undermines the entire premise of women’s sports and federal Title IX legislation.
“This is madness, and these policies are unfair. A woman is not a handicapped man,” Riley Gaines wrote in National Review last week. Gaines, a 12-time All-American swimmer, was forced to share a locker room and then compete against biological male Lia Thomas at the 2022 NCAA Women’s Swimming Championship.
She invoked the story of a female field hockey player in Massachusetts last November “whose teeth were knocked out and whose jaw was permanently damaged after she was hit in the face with a ball slung by a male player. Her teammates couldn’t bear to look as she shrieked in pain. The male went on to score the only two goals of that game and was praised for his performance.”
Companion legislation introduced in the New Hampshire House dubbed the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” would require that an “athletic team or sport designated for ‘females,’ ‘women,’ or ‘girls’ shall not be open to students of the male sex where selection for such teams is based upon competitive skill or the activity involved is a contact sport.”
Avard did not comment on the lower chamber’s legislation but noted prominent female professional athletes have gone on the record to say their male counterparts possess distinct advantages.
“Even Serena (Williams) talked about this,” Avard said. “As good as she is, she acknowledged she’d get beaten by any of the top 100 men’s players, hands down.”
“For me, men’s tennis and women’s tennis are completely almost two separate sports,” Williams said in a 2022 interview with late night television host David Letterman. “The men are a lot faster, they serve harder, they hit harder, it’s just a different game. I only want to play girls because I’d get embarrassed.”
In 1998, a German male player ranked 203rd in the world beat Serena and sister Venus Williams back-to-back.
D’Allesandro isn’t the only Granite State Democrat to defy progressive activists on the issue of transgender advocacy and children.
In January, state Rep. Jonah Wheeler (D-Peterborough) joined a bipartisan majority and voted in favor of banning sex-change surgeries for minors.
The proposal passed the House by a 199-175 vote, with a dozen Democrats and two independents joining all Republicans present who voted in favor.
Wheeler faced so much backlash from angry members of his own party that State House security stepped in to protect him.
Avard said the goal of his bill is to avoid divisiveness while still protecting the vulnerable.
“We’re not at each other’s throats, but we need to put some guard rails up,” said Avard. “If schools want to have co-ed teams, that should be allowed. But locker rooms should be off-limits. The general consensus is that we stop being so divided.”