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Kentucky Senate passes ban on older transgender athletes

The 27-8 vote Wednesday followed an emotional plea from a lawmaker who shared her own family story.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky Senate has passed a bill to bar older transgender girls from participating in school sports that match their gender identity. 

The 27-8 vote Wednesday followed an emotional plea from a lawmaker who shared her own family story. Democratic Sen. Karen Berg, the mother of a transgender son, warned that the bill is hurtful because “you’re excluding these children.”

After approving an amendment on the Senate floor, Senate Bill 83 now aims to prevent transgender girls in middle and high school from playing on girls' sports teams. When the bill was filed, it originally would have applied to K-12 students.

While voting, some lawmakers questioned why the bill was even necessary.

"I don't understand the need for this bill," said Sen. Reginald Thomas (D-Lexington). "I don't understand the agenda behind it when we don't have a problem here in this state, when there's been no unfairness."

Sen. Johnnie Turner (R-Harlan) argued that lawmakers shouldn't "wait for a problem to get out of control" before taking action.

The measure moves to the House next, which has its own version of the bill that would apply to college athletes as well. Republicans have supermajorities in both chambers.

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