Media analysis: Public broadcasting fights a bill that protects Alaska women athletes from transgender competitors


A story by public broadcasting featured on APRN, KTOO, and KYUK throws shade on a bill that protects female athletes from having transgender male-to-female athletes compete as women in their sports.

SB 140, the Alaska Even Playing Field Act, faces a hostile media that is putting its finger on the scale of public opinion.

Several other states have passed bills limiting girls’ school sports to biological females. They include Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Tennessee, and Texas. As transgenderism becomes more accepted among the young, schools are finding that biological males can set school records by competing against females.

The public broadcasting story is an example of how mainstream media in Alaska picks a side, without actually picking a side. The full story can be read at this link.

A word count shows that 266 words of the story are neutral or showcase the bill supporters’ point of view, and 497 words are associated with the opposing view. We’ve done a breakdown of the story to show how this works.

The sentences of the story that are either explanatory of the bill and/or present its rationale:

A state senator has proposed legislation that would prevent transgender female athletes from competing against other female athletes in school sports. 

Supporters of the bill say they’re trying to protect girls’ sports. 

Republican Sen. Shelley Hughes is the leader of the Senate majority. Her new bill had its first hearing in front of a Senate Education Committee in early March. 

Hughes told that committee that trans female athletes are bigger and stronger than cisgender females. 

A cisgender person identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth. A trans person does not. Hughes says trans female athletes have an unfair advantage. 

“Girls and women should not be robbed of the chance to be selected for a team to win a championship or to be awarded a college scholarship,” Hughes said. 

But Sen. Hughes says that just because a trans female athlete hasn’t beaten out a cis female for a scholarship yet doesn’t mean it won’t happen. She says her bill protects against that possibility.

Hughes agreed that, as written, the bill leaves its enforcement open to interpretation by the state’s Department of Education. But she said the committee could choose to amend it to be more specific about enforcement.

Hughes says that hurting trans kids is not her intention. She says she wants to provide them with essentially a separate but equal playing field.

“I am not transphobic. I love people, no matter what their choice, as far as their identity, I have value for them,” Hughes said.

The Senate committee considering the bill will hear public testimony on Senate Bill 140 on Saturday, March 12. – 266 words

Now read the sentences, broken out from the story, that tend to favor the position held by those who oppose the bill or that show why the bill is flawed:

But others say it unfairly penalizes transgender female athletes and could have drastic consequences for their mental health. 

The person who oversees high school sports competitions in Alaska says the idea that someone will be robbed of a scholarship by a trans athlete isn’t accurate. 

“This is a solution looking for a problem,” Billy Strickland said.

Strickland spent most of his career at the Lower Kuskokwim School district. He lives in Anchorage now, where he’s the executive director of the Alaska School Activities Association. He says he only knows of one trans female athlete in all of Alaska’s history and she’s already graduated. 

He says she came in second in one big track and field race and third in another. But her success didn’t prevent any other athletes from getting scholarships or making it onto a college team. 

“Your numbers are your numbers. You’re not recruited because you’re a state champion in Alaska, you’re recruited because you run a 10 second 100-meter dash,” Strickland said.

Trans woman Emily Mesch says that school sports should be about education and inclusion. 

“When you’re not allowed to socialize with the group of people that you think you belong to, that hinders your development, that hinders your ability to be a part of society,” Mesch said. 

Mesch chairs Southeast Alaska’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer alliance, called SEAGLA. 

She’s also a member of the Juneau Human Rights Commission. She’s against Hughes’ bill. One reason is that it’s not clear how it would be enforced or how an athlete’s birth-assigned gender would be determined. The thought leaves Mesch uncomfortable. 

“I don’t even want to list the possibilities of how you would check that, like, it’s not a comfortable thing,” Mesch said.

Sen. Tom Begich had a similar view.

“You’d have to examine them, you might be able to test for chromosomes, you might be able to do that. But listen to what I’m saying. These are all extraordinarily invasive things,” Begich said.

Begich is a Democrat, he sits on the education committee with Hughes. He said he doesn’t support the bill and questions whether it’s constitutional. 

Begich points out that transgender kids have a higher rate of suicide than cisgender kids. And this type of legislation would hurt them more.

But Emily Mesch says that Hughes’ actions speak differently than her words.

“Sen. Hughes might believe that she’s not transphobic but her actions are transphobic in the extreme, so that makes her transphobic,” Mesch said. 

For his part, ASAA Executive Director Billy Strickland said he prefers ASAA’s policy to this bill. That policy allows individual schools to determine an athlete’s gender. Under this policy, girls must play against girls’ teams and boys’ and co-ed teams must play against boys’ teams.

Strickland says this bill was written without input from the Alaska School Activities Association.

This bill looks similar to an Idaho law that was passed but didn’t go into effect. A federal judge considering the bill has said it’s likely unconstitutional. – 497 words

A letter to the Legislature from dozens of Alaska coaches and athletes states the supporters’ point of view:

A public hearing will be held in Senate Education Committee on Saturday, March 12 at 10 am. Opposing testimony is coming from all over the country and is far outpacing supportive testimony right now for SB140. Testimony is limited to two minutes. The call-in numbers are: 907-563-9085, 907-586-9085, 844-586-9085.

Write your comments to: [email protected] and [email protected].


  1. “A state senator has proposed legislation that would prevent transgender female athletes from competing against other female athletes in school sports.”

    The key word there, and the deliberate deception, is “other”.
    Males born as males, are NOT competing against “other” girls, but the woke crowd would have you believe that it’s just girls competing against (other) girls.
    It’s an in-your-face lie.

    Ironically, it’s the woke Leftists who like to point fingers at you and shriek that you are “anti science”,
    something that goes into the “stuff you simply cannot make up” file…..

  2. What’s the criteria for a biological male to participate as a tranny in high school sports?
    Suppose a wrestling team decided they could win a state girls team trophy by having the males fill in the open weight classes that other females wrestlers don’t fill. I can see that the team would have a big advantage over true gender teams. It’s time to stop the stupidity of it all. The degenerates are eroding Christianity and society.

  3. So maybe all sports teams should be open to anyone. Then it would be fair, right? Each athlete would have their own changing room so nobody would care what they are physically. It would not matter as long as they make the team. They would be chosen for ability.

  4. The progressive war on women continues. Not gonna end until all boys are “girls” and all girls are irrelevant.

    Nobody hates women more than the left.

    Has our Cowardly Lion of a governor said anything? Would his participation help or hurt protecting our girls?

  5. So… boys who don’t like girls, but want to be girls, compete only against girls to win what they can’t win against boys, plus they want government to send lawyers, guns, and money -and public broadcasting- to make it okay for them to do it.
    One might offer, not unkindly, to public broadcasting and to this subspecies: stuff your cis and trans newspeak, stuff your demands, and be thankful the law protects you from the natural consequences of being found in the same locker rooms as our daughters.
    The concept of women’s sports as we know it may be collapsing under the cultural rot of public broadcasting, but nothing prevents parents and coaches from reorganizing traditional women’s sports outside the purview of government which encourages, even enforces such cultural rot.

  6. If you believe this Bill is bad then do not put anything in your Campaign Ads that say you support Women because you are a BOLD face Liar.

    • They never really supported women, only gays! After all, they turned women into wage slaves after ranting about wage slavery all thru the 1960’s. Same with race! Women and race are stepping stones to their real goals. Wise up! My Lord.

  7. When did the Democrats pass legislation allowing men into women’s sports? If they didn’t, then who changed these policies?

    This is public policy that should have never happened without the involvement and consent of the public.

    • One of Biden’s first orders of business was an executive order for schools receiving federal monies. Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation
      JANUARY 20, 2021


  8. I have a suggestion: If you are female, you compete with females, if you are male, compete with males.
    If you have changed your sex from birth compete with transgenders. End of story.

  9. “Begich points out that transgender kids have a higher rate of suicide than cisgender kids. And this type of legislation would hurt them more.”

    So we are just going to enable them? Transgender kids have psychological issues already, obviously. This charade is doing nothing to help them but everything to destroy the lives of those living by their biological gender. If this is about ‘inclusion’ then do away with all gender specific sports and just make everything intramural. Albeit a simple solution would be to add a third program of transgender. Hence men’s, women’s, and transgender.

    A male body is a male body and the hormones do not change bone and muscle structure, or even cardiovascular. There is nothing fair about it. But alas it has nothing to do with fairness or inclusion. It is about relativistic agenda and forcing unnatural and unscientific upon society as normal and scientific.

  10. And yet, the state continues to fund them… kind of like the state being the biggest subscriber to ADN. Until THIS kind of thing changes under conservative administrations, we’ll never make meaningful progress against evil in Alaska.

  11. So, counting words is the way to evaluate journalistic integrity? Have you counted words from your own articles?

    • Here at Must Read Alaska, we admit our conservative bias, and do so upfront, so there is no need to count words. And regular readers know that. Welcome to our site. -sd

  12. Whatever happened to the #MeToo movement? This group of liberal women were supposed to protect women and fight politically for them. They have all but disappeared, not long after Trump left office. Maybe Matt can explain why this is…

  13. Begich, transgenders have a higher rate of suicide because they have mental problems and need therapy and drugs. EVERYONE KNOWS this and that boys competing against girls is unfair, and I don’t care who gets their feelings hurt over this truth. Nobody seems to care about girls being cheated in sports. Leftists are totally insane.

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