JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri’s Republican-led House passed legislation Thursday aimed at restricting transgender kids’ participation in sports.

It started as a bill to require photo ID to vote and another about school transportation but instead turned into a pair of bills that would require transgender athletes to play on the team that matches their birth certificates. 

“Believe it or not, this bill is about elections,” said Rep. Peggy McGaugh (R-Carrollton). “We got off the subject a little bit when we perfected this bill, but I want to tell you about the many good things in this bill.”

McGaugh is the sponsor of the large omnibus elections package that would require photo ID, allow the Secretary of State to audit voter registration lists, and prevents changes from being made to the ballot 26 weeks before an election. 

“It verifies words for election judges,” McGaugh said. “It tightens timelines for the Department of Motor Vehicles to process voter information.”

The conversation took a turn when Rep. Chuck Basye, R-Rocheport, offered an amendment allowing school districts to hold an election to ask the voters if transgender athletes with “male” on their birth certificates should be allowed to play on K-12 girls’ sports teams.

“If you’re looking for the good in this bill, it is looking for a piece of hay in a needle stack,” said Rep. Kevin Windham (R-Hillsdale). “The bill was hijacked under the title of elections with an ill-proposed, ill-vetted, ill-worded amendment.”

That bill, HB 2140, passed the House Thursday morning 96-47 with one Republican, Rep. Shamed Dogan from Ballwin, voting with the Democrats. 

“That’s what this legislation does, it erases these children,” said Rep. Ian Mackey (D-St. Louis). “It tells them in statute, in policy, that they do not exist.”

The second bill, HB 1973, originally dealt with school transportation but now has language to require transgender students to compete on teams that match the biological sex on their birth certificates. 

“There are less than 10 children in this state that this bill will affect,” Mackey said on the House floor. “I understand that you don’t understand. It’s not about the science, you don’t have to understand that science.”

Mackey is openly gay and said he’s heard from Republicans who don’t like the idea but voted in favor anyway. 

“It won’t be signed into law. It won’t make it to the governor’s desk — that’s what they tell themselves because that’s what they tell me. And I know that’s what they tell themselves and I hope they’re right, but they are tempting fate,” Mackey said. 

That bill passed 95-46 with four Republicans joining the Democrats in voting no. Dogan joined Rep. Chris Sander, R-Lone Jack, an openly gay representative; Rep. Andrew McDaniel, R-Deering; and Rep. Adam Schwadron, R-St. Charles.

The Senate also spent part of Thursday working on their own version. Sen. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove, is the sponsor of SB 781, known as the “Save Women’s Sports Act.”

“The bill establishes that no athlete, team, or sport designated for biological females shall be open to students who are biological males,” Moon said on the Senate floor Thursday afternoon. “This will protect female athletes from the competition from biological males.”

Moon’s bill would remove state funds from going to schools or athletic associations if a transgender female is found playing on a girls’ sports team. Sen. Greg Razer (D-Kansas City) and Sen. Lauren Arthur (D-Kansas City) held the floor for more than an hour filibustering the vote. Finally, around 3 p.m. Thursday, the Senate adjourned and the bill was laid over. 

The two House bills are now in the hands of the Senate, which has two weeks to consider the legislation before the session ends. 

The Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHAA), which oversees youth sports from grades K-12, already has a policy in place for transgender athletes, only allowing transgender females from competing on female sports teams after one year of hormone treatment.

It requires transgender females to fill out an application and documentation about their hormone treatments. Athletes born with “female” on their birth certificate are allowed to compete on boys’ teams according to MSHSAA.

Recently, U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Vicky Hartzler’s campaign Twitter account was suspended for tweeting, “Women’s sports are for women, not men pretending to be women.”

The post has since been hidden, and her campaign account has been blocked from Twitter until she deletes it, which her campaign said won’t happen.