Editor’s note: The following is the opening statement which Alaska Sen. Shelley Hughes delivered March 3 to introduce Senate Bill 140, which would ban biological males from competing in women’s sports. Hughes statement was made in the Senate Education Committee.

Fifty years ago, women’s sports changed forever. In 1972 slightly over 300,000 women and girls played college and high school sports in the United States. As of 2022, the number of female athletes in the U.S. has increased by over 900 percent to more than 3.5 million women and girls thanks to the passage of Title IX and the end of discrimination against girls and women in sports.

When I was young, I loved basketball and shot hoops in my driveway a lot but – I’m showing my age here – I had no option to play on a team at my high school. The only option for a female was to be a cheerleader and that didn’t interest me. Fortunately, because of Ttle IX, my daughter had options and played Varsity Girls’ basketball in high school.

But this year, as we celebrate Title IX’s 50th anniversary, women and girls stand, once more, at risk of being discriminated against, of not having an opportunity for an even playing field in sports. An ever-increasing trend of male-bodied athletes in women’s sports threatens competition and fairness. Girls and women should not be robbed of the chance to be selected for a team, to win a championship, or to be awarded a college scholarship due to the physical advantages of male-bodied athletes.

Title IX promises, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation, or be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” SB 140 seeks to ensure we don’t revert to discriminating against girls and women as was the case pre-1970’s.

Now for those who think this bill is about discriminating against those who identify as a gender different from their biological sex at birth, IT IS NOT. I want to put on the record that I love and value every person, including these individuals – they are precious and should have access to an even playing field as well and opportunities to participate in athletics. I am not transphobic and believe every person, every student athlete, deserves an even playing field.

This bill is not about blocking anyone from athletic opportunities – that would be in direct violation of Title IX. SB140 is about ensuring Title IX is upheld. Allow me to point out that thanks to Title IX, transgender athletes are protected from discrimination in sports and promised equal access to athletic programs. Their inclusion in sports absolutely must be protected but it must NOT come at the cost of discrimination against biological women.

School athletic programs are the primary opportunity for biological females to compete, win, and earn scholarships for their accomplishments

The goal of SB140 is to ensure discrimination against girls and women does not occur, that they are treated fairly and not disadvantaged in athletic programs compared to male-bodied athletes whether they identify as male or female.

Undeniable evidence and scientific research conclude that the average biological male body is stronger, larger, and faster than the average female body even after multiple years of testosterone suppression treatment. We see the imbalance, the male-body advantages particularly in high school athletics. For example, many male high school track and field athletes consistently beat the times of the best female Olympians who’ve trained intensely for years. Male-bodied athletes have a substantial physical advantage over female athletes in sports, regardless of the beliefs that the male-bodied athlete may hold about their sexuality or gender identity and regardless of multiple years of testosterone suppression therapy.

As many of you are aware, this topic has come to the forefront of public debate online and in the news lately. Transwomen are dominating in a variety of women’s sports both at the collegiate and high school level. To that end, I would like to read a section of a letter written by 16 UPenn Swim Team Members regarding their teammate Lia Thomas, a male-bodied athlete who identifies as a female.

“We fully support Lia Thomas in her decision to affirm her gender identity and to transition from a man to a woman. Lia has every right to live her life authentically. However, we also recognize that when it comes to sports competition, that the biology of sex is a separate issue from someone’s gender identity. Biologically, Lia holds an unfair advantage over competition in the women’s category, as evidenced by her rankings that have bounced from #462 as a male to #1 as a female……Lia’s inclusion with unfair biological advantages means that we have lost competitive opportunities. Some of us have lost records.”

Not only are physiological advantages of male-bodied athletes a consideration when it comes to a level and fair and true competitive playing field but safety is another concern.

This is the concern addressed by SB 140. Only 18 of the 40 members of the UPenn team will be chosen to compete at the Ivy Championships. If Lia Thomas is selected, a biological female will loose her opportunity to compete without an option for another category in which they could hope to qualify. Again, I emphasize that Lia Thomas and other trans athletes deserve the opportunity to compete and win fairly. However, it must not come at the cost of excluding otherwise qualifying biological females from the only category of sport in which they can hope to succeed.  

I want to take a moment to point out one of our own champion swimmers, Lydia Jacoby who you all know won the gold in the Olympics in Tokyo, to point out the differences between race outcomes.  Wins and losses are determined by split fractions of a second in the women’s competition. This is true as well in the men’s competition. The race outcomes, however, between female times and male times are not by such tiny increments. Adam Peaty, Lydia’s counterpart in the men’s competition who won the gold in the 100M breaststroke, was approximately 7.5 seconds faster than Lydia. There is a difference between male-bodied athletes and female-bodied athletes.

The issue at hand doesn’t just impact college and world competitions. It can be traced all the way down to K-12 sports. School athletic programs are the primary opportunity for biological females to compete, win, and earn scholarships for their accomplishments. Not only are physiological advantages of male-bodied athletes a consideration when it comes to a level and fair and true competitive playing field but safety is another concern. When it comes to team sports and contact sports. the physical advantages (such as strength, size, speed) of male-bodied athletes can put female bodied athletes at risk of physical harm.

We do not want this trend to take hold in Alaska. Your support to ensure discrimination against girls and women does not occur in our state is needed. Thank you.

SB140 addresses the issue from several angles. First, the bill requires public schools and private schools competing against public schools to designate their teams as male, female, or co-ed. Subsequently, the bill stipulates that membership on a team designated female must be based on the participant’s biological sex. The bill also protects schools from the threat of legal action for upholding the proposed law. Finally, students are also guaranteed the right to seek legal action if they are deprived of athletic opportunity or suffer retaliation or other adverse action due to a school’s lack of compliance with the law.

These protections would maintain competition and present Alaskan girls and women with an even playing field. For decades, Title IX law has ensured that biological sex-specific separations in athletics are legal. This has preserved competition while allowing women the chance to win.

And in case you are wondering, EO 13988 issued last year at the federal level (that ties funding to allowing male-bodied athletes to participate in girls’ and women’s sports) was based on a court ruling (the Bostock case) pertaining to employment law, not school sports law. EO 13988 is in direct violation of Title IX.

Unlike EO 13988, SB140 stands for an equal opportunity for all.  The liability section of this bill would even give a trans student athlete the ability to file suit if deprived of an athletic opportunity from a violation of this legislation. This bill is not designed to preclude transgender individuals from participation in sports but rather to ensure that participation in any category is fair based on the athlete’s physiological ability. Enabling one group by disadvantaging another group only serves to create a new problem. The great triumph of Title IX and the success of millions of women in athletics must not be discarded in the name of social progress.

I want to make 2 final points before I conclude:

— The mental health of girls and women is at stake. We have heard and likely will hear the argument that this policy will jeopardize the mental health of male-bodied athletes who identify as females who via this bill could participate in co-ed or boys/men’s sports but not female sports, but we often fail to think about what happens to young girls and women if we don’t address this issue. How are we impacting them – their mental health – if we allow male-bodied athletes to beat them out of spots on rosters, out of championships, out of scholarships? Trying to solve one problem by creating another is not a good solution. It is true that scientific data shows that the suicide rates of transgender individuals are higher than that of non-transgender individuals; let’s make sure they have access to care to target this challenge and not create a secondary problem of mental health issues for biological female athletes.  That’s the first of two serious points I wanted you to consider before closing.

— The second and final point is if we do not address this, eventually over time girls and women’s sports will be, frankly, totally eroded. Coaches are hired to take teams to victory. When one women’s team has a male-bodied athlete giving that team an advantage, other coaches will be pressured to have the same advantage and recruit accordingly. Rosters will eventually fill up with more and more male-bodied athletes to increase the advantage and the victories, robbing more and more females from athletic opportunities.

We do not want this trend to take hold in Alaska. Your support to ensure discrimination against girls and women does not occur in our state is needed. Thank you.

The views expressed here are those of the author.


— SB 140 is currently in the Senate Education Committee. Click here to contact members of the committee.

— Click here to send one email to all members of the Senate Education Committee.

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AK Senate Majority Leader: Biological males will destroy women’s sports

Shelley Hughes
Shelley Hughes serves as an Alaska state senator from Palmer.


  • David Shoemaker says:

    Put Craig up against the best in the men’s league. How does he measure up. Men and women are different. Let’s all stop pretending. Men and women have different strengths. Deal with it. If you popped out a male then stay in your lane

  • Based Alaskan says:

    The fact that this is actually a thing blows my mind. The left truly are vile, evil, disgusting people.

  • Jim+Minnery says:

    The best way Alaskans can help is to encourage the Senate Education Committee to get this to a vote. Send an email to and implore Chair Roger Holland and Vice Chair Gary Stevens to get it to a vote. #SaveWomensSports

  • Steve P Peterson says:

    If these actual women would refuse to run against these fake women it would end this debacle. But they won’t because many of them are on board with transgenderism. Now it has come back to bite them… hard!

  • Sally M Pollen says:

    Senator Shelley Hughes, thank you for your work on this most important bill, Senate Bill 140. Common sense is out the window on so many fronts these days. I want to direct these few lines to those who see the rightness, the truth of this bill, but are somehow caught in the web of fighting it. Stop!! Be honest with yourselves, be bold and confirm the fact that men are born physically stronger and faster than women. Please stand up for playing fair, don’t try to change age-old rules. Be a voice for clarity rather than adding to the confusion.