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New Hampshire lawmakers consider multiple bills targeting transgender students and athletes

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire lawmakers considering whether to ban transgender athletes from competing in school sports that align with their gender identities heard from two former athletes Tuesday who took opposite positions on the bill.

At least 20 states have approved a version of a blanket ban on transgender athletes playing on K-12 and collegiate sports teams. New Hampshire lawmakers have rejected similar proposals in recent years, but this year are considering two bills. The version heard by the Senate Education Committee on Monday goes further than the House proposal in that it also would regulate the bathrooms transgender students can use at school.

Michelle Cilley Foisy, of Temple, told the committee she broke track and field records in high school, won a state championship as part of a relay team and attended college on an athletic scholarship.

“I go into this detail with my athletic career not to receive recognition but to emphasize that my accomplishments were not once lessened by the runners I ran against, they were only improved upon,” she said.

Cilley Foisy said her opposition to the bill also stems from her experience as a mother to six children, including a teen who was suicidal until they expressed “how lost they felt in their own body.”

The proposed legislation, she said, “escalates and exacerbates the isolation trans youth like my child have to endure.”

“Supporting and promoting the blatant discrimination of transgender athletes is not the way of the Granite State,” she said. "Sports should be a place where we embrace diversity.”

The committee also heard from Nancy Biederman, who opened her testimony by noting that she won the Connecticut high school doubles championship in badminton in 1987.

“I worked really hard to get that status,” said Biederman, a supporter of the bill who argued that transgender athletes are taking spots on teams away from other students.

“I don’t care what you wear. I don’t care what drugs you take. I don’t care what surgery you take, you are not a woman,” she said.

Biederman was the only person who spoke in favor of the bill other than its sponsor, Republican state Sen. Kevin Avard.

Advocates for transgender youth also have opposed other bills this session, including a House-passed bill that would make New Hampshire the 24th state to restrict or ban gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors. The care has been available in the United States for more than a decade and is endorsed by major medical associations.

The House also has passed legislation critics say would roll back anti-discrimination protections enacted in 2018.

The current law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex or gender identity, but the bill passed earlier this month would allow public and private entities to differentiate on the basis of “biological sex” in multi-person bathrooms and locker rooms, athletic events and detention facilities. One lawmaker who voted to pass it, however, has said he will seek reconsideration.