Rep. Barbara Ehardt, R-Idaho Falls, traveled to Montana to testify in a legislative committee hearing on Monday morning. The hearing concerned the introduction of Montana Bill 112. Titled the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” the bill would require “public school athletic teams to be designated based on biological sex.”
The bill was based on Idaho’s Ehardt-sponsored “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act” that was passed into law last year. In 2020, Idaho became the first state to pass such legislation. If Montana were to follow suit, it would become the second. So far, 14 other states have made moves to enact similar legislation this year.
“I believe they appreciated my testimony, which is so unique compared to anyone else who is in the process of sponsoring this bill throughout the nation … Being in our neighboring state, for me, it was an honor to be asked to participate,” Ehardt told the Post Register.
Ehardt’s Montana testimony was largely about her personal experience in athletics. She is a former college basketball player and NCAA Division I women’s basketball coach. Ehardt said this time in her life was important to her, and she would not have wanted to compete against a transgender woman. In the Montana bill, author Rep. John Fuller, R-Whitefish, outlined his reasons for believing transgender women have a biological advantage in women’s sports.
“If you don’t pass legislation such as this, it will come to the day where there will be no room, no place, for girls and women to compete,” Ehardt said in the hearing.
Former college wrestler and transgender woman Zooey Zephyr testified that, following her transition, she no longer had a competitive advantage over women. Rejecting the idea that someone would transition as an athletic strategy, Zephyr stated transgender people do so “to lead a happier life.”
“Trans people do not transition to get an advantage in sports,” Zephyr said.
Ehardt also was questioned as to the repercussions Idaho athletics had faced as a result of the new law. Some wondered whether Idaho had suffered financially or if it had been banned from hosting NCAA competitions. Ehardt said she did not believe Idaho’s economy had suffered because of it. Ehardt clarified the NCAA had not yet banned Idaho from hosting competitions. Currently, NCAA does allow transgender girls and women to compete on female teams if they have been receiving hormone treatment for at least a year.
“We were on the NCAA’s agenda on Aug. 4, and they deferred it. We were on again Oct. 10, they deferred it. And they’re observing the situation, but they have not banned Idaho from hosting NCAA events,” Ehardt said.
In August, a federal judge put a temporary block on the new law in Idaho as it awaits legal proceedings following a challenge from the ACLU.