We all know that issues of gender identity are constantly evolving and being debated around the country and in many areas of life. But in our rush to embrace individuals’ self identities, we can’t sacrifice any legal option to differentiate between biological sexes.

Rep. Linda Gould’s bill HB 1180, “Relative to State Recognition of Biological Sex,” is a targeted bill to preserve the state’s interest in making appropriate distinctions between biological sex when it comes to certain narrow areas. It does not seek to weigh in on the bigger question of sexual identity.

The bill will be considered by the House Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee on Tuesday, February 22nd at 9:30 am. By clarifying that individuals’ changes to their birth records and motor vehicle licenses don’t strip the state from any ability to distinguish on the basis of biological sex, it preserves long-standing precedent in a limited but significant way.

We should not confuse making practical distinctions based on biological sex with discrimination against a protected class. Considering biological sex is something that, in New Hampshire, we have historically done, and for good reason. For example, the police routinely incarcerate men and women in separate facilities. Because of the deep biological differences that exist between the male and female sexes, our state has a justifiable interest in differentiating between these two groups of people. The most important consideration is safeguarding women’s rights and the protection of women.

HB 1180 is important because, already, New Hampshire’s laws about gender identity are being abused and stretched way beyond the meaning which I believe the legislature intended. Last year, the Manchester School Board adopted a policy integrating biological males and females in both sports teams and bathrooms on the basis of gender identity.

One of the justifications given for this policy was our state law allowing non-binary gender identities on driver’s licenses.

To say that is a stretch is an understatement. The fact is, our state laws simply do not require these kinds of policies. Our laws on gender identity, such as the provision that allows people to put an “X” on their driver’s license, do not say or mean that school districts are prohibited from having intramural and interscholastic sports leagues composed of biological women.

What HB 1180 will do is clarify that laws regarding state identification do not mean that public entities are prohibited from differentiating between males and females in athletic competitions, criminal incarceration, or places of intimate privacy like bathrooms. In other words, “male” and “female” are real categories of people which the state can recognize. Why is that even a debate?

Consider the case of California, which integrated biologically male and female prisoners on the basis of self-declared gender identity over a year ago with disastrous consequences for women prisoners. Soon after California’s policy was adopted, dozens of biological males had already been transferred to the Central California Women’s Facility, many of whom had not had any sex-reassignment surgery or even taken hormonal medication but nevertheless were sharing intimate living spaces with women.

Integrating biological males and females in bathrooms and locker rooms is just the beginning. The only logical outcome of such thinking is to render NH law incapable of ever differentiating between the biological sexes and erase any distinctions or protections for women. HB 1180 would clarify state law to help prevent deeply harmful actions of this kind, helping to preserve athletic opportunities for young women and protecting women’s physical safety and privacy. Think of your own daughters in a world where there is no acknowledgment or protection for them based on their inherent physical differences.

I urge you to support passage HB 1180 by contacting the members of the Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee and signing in remotely to tell them NH needs to preserve the ability to consider biological sex when weighing the health and safety of all.