ST. LOUIS — One day after Missouri's GOP-led House gave the nod to a bill that would put limits on transgender athletic participation, two student organizations at the University of Missouri-Columbia protested against the bill.
"I think the amendment sends a poor message to the trans community as a whole," said 34-year-old, Michaela Kraemer, the Administrative Assistant at Metro Trans Umbrella Group in south St. Louis.
The grassroots, trans-focused organization has been in St. Louis for nine years.
Michaela said she played ice hockey until her senior year in high school and came out as transgender three years ago.
She said the transgender sports bill is a step in the wrong direction.
The House passed the bill Monday night in a vote of 93 to 41.
"I think it's kind of disgusting that they're picking on trans youth. I think the lawmakers need to discuss and legislate on our civil rights, our dignity as human beings and the fact that we don't have equal rights now," said Michaela Kraemer.
The bill would require transgender high school students to compete on teams that match the sex on their birth certificates.
Representative Ron Copeland, of Salem, Missouri, sponsored it.
"What is my daughter supposed to do when she's playing against a six-foot four transgender male?" said Representative Copeland.
Currently, transgender girls are already prohibited from competing on girls teams unless they're undergoing hormone therapy.
Critics say at a time when the suicide rate is four times higher among transgender teens compared to their peers, a bill like this will only further hurt those kids.
"This is a life and death situation whenever I'm looking at it. This could be death for trans youth who are now allowed to play sports," said Beth Gombos, Outreach Coordinator at Metro Trans Umbrella Group.
The bill now heads to the Missouri Senate.
Missouri’s current public high school sports rules already prohibit transgender girls from competing on girls teams unless they’re undergoing hormone therapy.
Two transgender girls have been approved to play on Missouri girls’ teams in the past decade.