NASHVILLE (WSMV) - The vote is in and the controversial transgender bill regarding student athletes has passed the Tennessee House.
The final vote was 71-16 with 5 votes not cast. It will now be heading to Governor Bill Lee's desk for his signature.
The bill previously passed the Tennessee Senate.
The Tennessee Senate passed a bill that says a student athlete can only compete in sports or other events under the gender they were assigned at birth.
The bill says a student can only compete in sports under the gender that is listed on their original birth certificate.
This will be in effect for middle and high school sports.
During a Wednesday morning press conference with Governor Bill Lee, News4 asked the Governor directly about his view and thoughts on transgender women participating in sports.
"I don't really understand where it's coming from," Kelly Houske said.
Houske, a transgender woman, said she worries about the bill now heading to Governor Lee's desk.
"To put another obstacle in front of somebody just seems hateful to me," Houske said.
Republican State Rep. Scott Cepicky sponsored the bill.
"We saw what was happening across the country with transgenders being able to play in the girls sports and them displacing those girls from awards and championships," State Rep. Scott Cepicky, (R) Culleoka said.
When asked if there has been any example of this happening in Tennessee, Cepicky told News4 no.
Supporters said it's a proactive measure. He agrees.
"Scholarships are very competitive right now and on the girls sports side, we wanted to make sure girls were competing against other girls," Cepicky said.
Critics said the bill addresses a problem that doesn't exist.
“The only thing that this legislation did proactively was discriminate against vulnerable children," State Rep. John Ray Clemmons, (D) Nashville said.
Democratic State Rep. John Ray Clemmons tried to amend the bill.
His proposal would have allowed school systems and schools to handle the issue if it ever came up. It failed.
For Houske, she's concerned the bill will have a ripple effect.
"We're going to open ourselves up to a lot of liability and potentially lose income from the tourism industry," Houske said.
Governor Bill Lee's office issued a statement on Monday:
"The Governor has been clear about concerns around this issue and the negative impact on women’s sports. Our position on this bill is defer."
When News4 asked for clarification on whether Governor Lee will sign the bill or not, his office said he "plans to defer to the legislature's decision on this bill."
Tennessee legislators just voted to pass into law an unconstitutional, discriminatory bill attacking trans student athletes.— ACLU of Tennessee (@aclutn) March 22, 2021
Gov. Lee must veto this bill or – should any trans youth be excluded because of it – we will see him in court.
Our statement: https://t.co/evCznJfqlS