The Alabama House of Representatives’ Health Committee voted to advance House Bill 405 on Wednesday which provides definitions for sex and gender terms like male, female, woman and man.
Known as the What is a Woman Act, the bill defines a female as “an individual whose biological reproductive system is designed to produce ova” and a male as “an individual whose biological reproductive system is designed to fertilize the ova of a female.” The bill takes another step to define women and girls as those who are strictly biologically female and men and boys as labels for those who are biologically male. While the bill restricts biological sex to a binary based on one’s sex organs and chromosomes (XX for a female and XY for a male), some scientists recognize biological sex as a spectrum composed of different variations of chromosomes, sex organs and hormone production.
Alabama State Representative Susan DuBose sponsored the bill. Shortly after the bill cleared her committee, she retweeted a tweet with messages from individuals expressing concern over transgender athletes competing in sports that align with their gender identity. The messages showed people stating that transgender individuals’ participation is “unfair” to high school girls in sports.
Alabama’s American Civil Liberties Union stated its opposition to the act:
The bill establishes a stringent assertion of the definition of a man or woman that completely cuts transgender people out of the picture. This bill attempts to place antiquated gender assumptions as a rule of law. If passed, this legislation would have a detrimental impact on the ability for trans[gender] women and men to authentically live life.
This bill is just one example of the continued attack on transgender rights across the country. In 2022, LGBTQ+ suicide prevention organization The Trevor Project found that 45 percent of LGBTQ+ youth in Alabama faced threats of violence because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. In April, the US House of Representatives passed a bill that prevents transgender people from participating in school athletic programs.