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Alabama lawmakers attempt to define 'what is a woman'

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Alabama lawmakers on Wednesday advanced legislation that would define who is recognized as female and male under state law. The House Health Committee voted along party lines to approve the "What is a Woman Act" and send the legislation to the full House of Representatives. The bill is similar to measures introduced in several GOP-controlled states and would base the definitions off a person's reproductive systems. Carmarion D. Anderson-Harvey, Alabama state director of the Human Rights Campaign, in a statement Wednesday called the bill the "LGBTQ+ Erasure Act" that "aims to strip away dozens of legal protections and rights for LGBTQ+ Alabamians."

"LGBTQ+ people have spent decades fighting to be equal members of society, but this bill is a slap in the face to all of the progress we've made," said Anderson-Harvey, who is also a trans woman.

Republican House member Susan Dubose, the bill's sponsor, argued the definitions are needed to protect "women's spaces" such as dorm rooms. She said the words male and female appear frequently in law without being defined.

"Activists have sought to redefine these words and separate sex from biology," Dubose said when she introduced the bill last week.

The bill defines a female and woman as an "individual whose biological reproductive system is designed to produce ova" and a male and man as an "individual whose biological reproductive system is designed to fertilize the ova of a female." The bill states that it is important to "distinguish between the sexes with respect to athletics, prisons or other detention facilities, domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, locker rooms, bathrooms" and other areas.

The bill drew heavy opposition during a public hearing last week where several transgender women called the bill an attack on their assistance.

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