House bill affects women’s sports

Hiwassee Dam High School senior Payton McNabb, who was injured last September due to a spike by a Highlands School volleyball player identifying as a transgender female, spoke at a recent press conference.
Hiwassee Dam High School senior Payton McNabb, who was injured last September due to a spike by a Highlands School volleyball player identifying as a transgender female, spoke at a recent press conference.

Deena B. Bouknight – Contributing Writer

Bills and laws are regularly being passed nationwide, of late, to prevent biological males from competing in female-only sports. On Wednesday, April 20, the North Carolina House passed what has been dubbed the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” House Bill 574. This bill is specifically relevant to Macon County and Western North Carolina in that an incident occurred in September 2022 involving Hiwassee Dam High School senior and women’s volleyball player Payton McNabb, who was injured due to a spike by a Highlands School volleyball athlete [unnamed] identifying as a transgender female. The YouTube posting of the volleyball play went viral and McNabb suffered extensive injuries as a result of the spike. Additionally, the incident has received ongoing national attention from such media outlets as New York Post, Washington Examiner, Turning Point USA, FoxNews, and more. 

McNabb spoke recently at a press conference in Raleigh, stating that she was not able to complete her last volleyball season as a senior due to the injuries that have impacted her vision and resulted in “partial paralysis on my right side, constant headaches, anxiety, depression … I am still recovering,” she said. “My ability to retain or comprehend has diminished … I require accommodations during testing because of injuries … I could go on and on.” 

On April 6, 2023, [H574-PCS30298-BE-17] the bill … “An Act to Protect Opportunities for Women And Girls In Athletics,” introduced in the General Assembly of North Carolina and reads in part: “All teams participating in interscholastic or intramural athletic activities shall comply with the following: Each team shall be expressly designated by the biological sex of the team participants as one of the following: I. Males, men, or boys. II. Females, women, or girls. III. Coed or mixed. Athletic teams designated for females, women, or girls shall not be open to students of the male sex.”

When McNabb spoke last week, she explained her reason for speaking out.

“I’m not here for me,” she said. “My time playing has come to an end. I’m doing it for the biological female athletes coming after me – my little sister, my cousins, my teammates. Allowing biological males to compete against biological females is dangerous. My ability to compete was taken from me. Having to play against biological males is not a level playing field.” 

Because what is referred to as a “kill shot” resulted in significant injuries to McNabb in September, Hiwassee Dam High School chose to forfeit a follow-up Oct. 11 game to Highlands School. The Cherokee County school board also voted to forfeit all matches for its schools’ women’s volleyball teams against Highlands School.

McNabb was interviewed by FoxNews’ Laura Ingram April 21, along with University of Kentucky swimmer, Riley Gaines, who has spoken out about competing against Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, who was the first openly trans-woman champion in the NCAA to compete in the women’s division. 

With regard to the controversial issue, Gaines told Ingram, “It’s a mockery. It’s not funny.” 

McNabb, who played volleyball for eight years, told FoxNews, “It [biological males competing against biological females] needs to come to an end.” 

Gaines, who has been traveling around the United States to speak out against biological males competing in female-only sports, visited N.C. to support Bill 574, which she called a “common sense” bill. Afterwards, she Tweeted: “I was honored to stand alongside her [McNabb] in North Carolina to continue the fight to protect women’s sports.”

North Carolina joins more than 20 other states in efforts to ban transgender girls from playing on girls’ sports teams in middle school and high school. Also last week, House Republicans in Washington, D.C., approved legislation — H.R. 734 (118) – that “bars transgender women from playing on teams consistent with their gender identity and amends Title IX, the federal education law that bars sex-based discrimination, to define sex as based solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth,” according to an April 20 Politico report. 

However, the report further noted: “During debate over the bill on Wednesday, several GOP lawmakers argued the bill was necessary because of the Biden administration’s new proposed Title IX rule on athletics eligibility that would allow transgender girls to play sports with some limitations. Democrats pushed back by invoking Utah Gov. Spencer Cox in their defense of transgender women and girls. … The bill has no chance of becoming law as it is likely to stall in the Democrat-controlled Senate, and President Joe Biden has already announced that he would veto the bill if it were to reach his desk.”

(Athletic directors and principals at both schools, Hiwassee Dam and Highlands, were contacted by telephone and email for comment; neither of which responded.)