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To: Senate Judiciary Committee
From: Christopher Dodson, Executive Director
Subject: House Bill 1298 - Fairness in Sports
Date: March 16, 2021

True education aims at the formation of the human person as a unity of body, soul, and spirit, while pursuing the common good. It includes the social and physical aspects of athletics. As Pope Francis has said, ''The Church is interested in sport because the person is at her heart, the whole person, and she recognizes that sports activity affects the formation, relations, and spirituality of a person."1 In education and in sports, we must seek to avoid unequal treatment between men and women, and anything that debases human dignity, including rejection of a person’s body. With these principles in mind, the North Dakota Catholic Conference supports HB 1298 for several reasons.

First, it assures fundamental fairness. We have made great strides not only in respecting the unique dignity of women and girls, but also in fostering a fair and equal environment that provides them opportunities to grow and succeed according to their created uniqueness. That environment is being threatened and HB 1298 protects it.

Second, youth have a right to safely participate in student athletics. Male competition in activities designated for females can be both unfair and, especially in high-contact sports, unsafe. Neither of these concerns is remediated by cross- sex hormone procedures, as they do not fully address disparities in average muscle mass, bone characteristics, and lung capacity once puberty is underway.2

Third, HB 1298 conforms to human dignity and proper pedagogy. We often hear, in support of allowing biological boys to compete against girls, that gender is a construct. In truth, gender ideology is a construct, untethered from biological and ontological reality. Allowing biological males to compete against biological females cooperates with and advances this false ideology, contrary to the proper purpose of both sports and education.

Fourth, HB 1298 prevents potential conflicts. Some some schools, parents, or students might have philosophical or religious reasons preventing girls from competing against biological males, especially in contact sports. HB 1298 would prevent penalizing those schools and students.
Finally, HB 1298 recognizes that the legislature is the proper place to address this issue. As it stands now, an association consisting of non-elected individuals made a decision that imposed a certain ideology on our students. HB 1298 rectifies that mistake.

Indeed, this last point brings up an opportunity to address some of the claims we have heard in opposition to this bill.

We hear that the bill is not necessary and that NDHSAA already has a policy to address this issue.

What the opponents do not say is that organizations claiming to be “pro-trans” consider NDHSAA’s policies as inadequate for their purposes.3 They advocate for policies that allow children to compete solely based on their expressed gender at the time of the competition.
Also concerning is that these organizations do not try to advance their agenda through legislative bodies, but instead work to directly influence high school activities associations. In fact, a six point guide for promoting policy endorsed by groups like Transathlete notably excludes any involvement by legislative bodies.4 It urges their supporters to directly pressure activities associations.

Indeed, that agenda strategy exposes the truth about another claim of the opposition: that this bill is not needed because no instance of a transgender youth wanting to compete has come up in North Dakota. Their own strategy plan, however, encourages their supporters to be “proactive” and states: “Develop a policy before a transgender student wants to try out for a team.”5 In other words, the opponents argue that you, as a legislative body, should wait while they go ahead and push the activities association to make the changes they want.

Finally, the activities of these groups reveal the truth about another claim made by opponents — that HB 1298 will lead to boycotts and loss of tournaments sponsored by national organizations. According to Transathelete, which tracks the policies of every state, only sixteen states are completely “trans friendly” and eleven states have policies like that in HB 1298, even if not all were enacted by legislation.6 Those states include Texas, Indiana, Georgia, Louisiana, and Nebraska. We have heard no evidence, however, that those states have been boycotted and cannot host tournaments sponsored by national athletic organizations.

Every person, including students experiencing gender identity discordance, should be able to participate in student activities. The activities, however, should be in accord with fairness, safety, and the dignity of the human person. For these reasons we support HB 1298 and ask for a Do Pass recommendation.


1 Pope Francis, Address to the Italian Tennis Federation, Rome, May 8, 2015.

2 Tommy Lundberg and Emma Hilton, “Transgender women in the female category of sport: is the male performance advantage removed by testosterone suppression?” (May 13, 2020) (available at https:// img1.wsimg.com/blobby/go/a69528e3-c613-4bcc-9931- 258260a4e77f/downloads/ preprints202005.0226.v1%20(1).pdf, as pre-printed update of Lundberg 2019 study, infra); Expert Declaration of Gregory A. Brown, Ph.D., Filed in support of the U.S. Department of Education Complaint Nos. 01-19-4025 & 01-19-1252. (Jan. 7, 2020) (available at https://img1.wsimg.com/blobby/go/a69528e3- c613-4bcc-9931-258260a4e77f/downloads/
2020.01.07%20G%20Brown%20 Report%20Executed.pdf? ver=1580495895886); T. Lundberg, Ph.D. et.al., “Muscle strength, size and composition following 12 months of gender- affirming treatment in transgender individuals: retained advantage for the transwomen,” Karolinska Institutet, Department of Laboratory Medicine/ANA Futura, Division of Clinical Physiology. Huddinge, Sweden (Sep. 26, 2019) (available via bioRxiv, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, at https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/782557v1).

Furthermore, the safety of the students who undergo hormone treatments themselves is at risk when such procedures have unproven long-term results in developing bodies. See D. Getahun et al., "Cross‐ Sex Hormones and Acute Cardiovascular Events in Transgender Persons: A Cohort Study," Ann Intern Med 169, no. 4 (2018); M.S. Irwig, "Cardiovascular Health in Transgender People," Rev Endocr Metab Disord 19, no. 3 (2018); P.W. Hruz, L.S. Mayer, and P.R. McHugh, "Growing Pains: Problems with Puberty Suppression in Treating Gender Dysphoria," The New Atlantis, 52 (2017); S. Maraka et al., "Sex Steroids and Cardiovascular Outcomes in Transgender Individuals: A Systematic Review and Meta‐ Analysis," J Clin Endocrinol Metab 102, no. 11 (2017); J. Feldman, G.R. Brown, M.B. Deutsch, et al., “Priorities for Transgender Medical and Healthcare Research,” Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes 23 (2016):180-87; D. Macut, I.B. Antić, and J. Bjekić‐Macut, "Cardiovascular Risk Factors and Events in Women with Androgen Excess," Journal of Endocrinological Investigation 38, no. 3 (2015); E. Moore, A. Wisniewski, A. Dobs, “Endocrine Treatment of Transsexual People: A Review of Treatment Regimens, Outcomes, and Adverse Effects,” J Clin Endocrinol Metab 88 (2003): 3467-73.

3 See, for example, https://www.transathlete.com/k-12 and the policy of the LGBT Sports Foundation https://13248aea-16f8-fc0a-cf26-a9339dd2a3f0.filesusr.com/ugd/ 2bc3fc_c8eeefb073a8421396f6520a4cca9f3b.pdf.

4 Developing Policies for Transgender Students on High School Teams, https://www.nfhs.org/ articles/developing-policies-for-transgender-students-on-high-school-teams/. See also, https://www.transathlete.com/creating-a-high-school-policy.

5 Id.

6 Tranathelete.com, https://www.transathlete.com/k-12
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The North Dakota Catholic Conference acts on behalf of the Roman Catholic bishops of North Dakota to respond to public policy issues of concern to the Catholic Church and to educate Catholics and the general public about Catholic social doctrine.
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