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Wyoming-sponsored legislation moving through Congress would ban trans athletes from the Olympics

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In a combative committee hearing on Capitol Hill, U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman (R-Wyoming) spoke in defense of the legislation, which passed.

Hageman is Wyoming’s only representative in the U.S. House.

She said it’s necessary to protect the privacy of cisgender women from trans women who might want to compete in the Olympic Games alongside them.

“It is about protecting women and girls, and women and girls’ athletics,” said Hageman. “That is all.”

Layha Spoonhunter is Eastern Shoshone, Northern Arapaho and Oglala Lakota, and a two-spirit Wyomingite.

“I feel that this legislation is another piece of harmful and discriminatory legislation that is targeting a specific community, and that we have bigger issues that we need to address,” said Spoonhunter.

Spoonhunter said any enforcement of the ban by the government would involve violating the personal safety and rights of trans people.

The bill text itself does not specify how it will be enforced, or by whom.

“It sends a clear message to trans youth that when they get over the age to be able to qualify for the Olympics, that they will not be able to,” they said. “And that's heartbreaking.”

Other lawmakers pointed to the fact that the bill addresses what they say is a non-issue.

Hageman said she hopes the bill will pass Congress in time for the 2024 Summer Olympics.

This reporting was made possible by a grant from the Corporation For Public Broadcasting, supporting state government coverage in the state. Wyoming Public Media and Jackson Hole Community Radio are partnering to cover state issues both on air and online.

Chris Clements is a state government reporter and digital media specialist for Wyoming Public Media based in Laramie. He came to WPM from KSJD Radio in Cortez, Colorado, where he reported on Indigenous affairs, drought, and local politics in the Four Corners region. Before that, he graduated with a degree in English (Creative Writing) from Arizona State University. Chris's news stories have been featured on KUNC, NPR newscasts, and National Native News, among others.

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