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Committee holds public hearing on “What is a Woman” legislation

The bill would write into state law that “sex is objective and fixed.”

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On Wednesday, a committee held a public hearing to give members of the public the ability to voice their support or opposition to House Bill 111, the “What is a Woman” bill, sponsored by Rep. Susan Dubose, R-Hoover. 

The public hearing was during a House Judiciary Committee meeting where eight individuals, four in support and four against, offered public sentiments on the legislation. This is the second year in a row Dubose has posed this legislation after it failed to pass. 

While introducing the bill, Dubose said its purpose was to codify definitions of an individual’s sex and give courts “guidance” and clarity when interpreting laws. Dubose said the legislation was not intended to take away any rights from people. 

“This is a definitional bill for our courts to have guidance when interpreting laws that already exist in Alabama,” Dubose said. “Words have meaning, and my intent is to make sure we have uniform definitions and our courts have clarity.”

The legislation would “define man, woman, boy, girl, father, mother, male, female, and sex for purposes of state law,” and “provide policy on the differences between sexes.” 

Jordan Giddens, a senior organizer with the Human Rights Campaign, said the bill’s attempt to define sex was discriminatory and would harm LGBTQ+ community members, specifically those who are non-binary or transgender. 

“When are we going to stop attacking and discriminating against our non-binary and transgender community members,” Giddens stated. “The bottom line is this bill is extremely harmful because it is purposely discriminating against a marginalized community in this state. The bill is merely a political point to go after those who are gender diverse, and score political points in the media.”

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The bill states that “‘sex’ is objective and fixed” and that those with differences in their sex development, or intersex individuals, are not a third sex. Females are defined as people who at some point produce ovas and males are defined as individuals who eventually will produce sperm. 

Individuals from several conservative organizations also spoke in favor of HB111 including Emily Jones, a representative with Moms For Liberty. Jones said that there are only two sexes, male and female, and they are not able to be changed. 

“We are not interchangeable,” Jones said. “I encourage you to please pass this bill codify it into law man and woman, male and female.” 

Destiny Clark spoke about how the bill could endanger the lives of trans people in the state by mentioning the recent tragic death of Nex Benedict. Benedict was a 16-year-old nonbinary student in Oklahoma who was beaten in the bathroom by their classmates at school. Benedict passed away the following day. 

“If we pass this HB111, I fear we will have more deaths like [Benedict’s] and they will happen over and over and they will start again here in Alabama,” Clark warned. 

The bill was not voted on during the committee meeting; that will occur next week. 

Patrick Darrington is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected].

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