Mississippi has become the first state in the country to adopt a transgender ban for women’s and girl’s sports this year, after Gov. Tate Reeves (R) signed a bill Thursday in what the governor said is in direct response to an anti-discrimination executive order enacted by President Joe Biden, an order many conservatives are using as a reason to push similar bills in several other states.
The Mississippi bill, which widely passed the Republican-controlled legislature, will prohibit transgender athletes from participating on girl’s and women’s sports teams at public schools and universities.
The bill is one of at least 22 bills across the U.S. introduced this year aimed at transgender bans in sports, according to a Human Rights Campaign count last month.
The Mississippi ban is set to take effect as law on July 1, but there may be a legal challenge before then, with ACLU attorney Chase Strangio saying the bill is “very vague and seemingly unenforceable,” according to The Associated Press.
“It’s crazy we have to address it, but the Biden E.O. forced the issue,” Reeves said in a tweet last week. “Adults? That’s on them. But the push for kids to adopt transgenderism is just wrong.”
What To Watch For
South Dakota appears to be next for a transgender sports ban, as a bill has passed the legislature and Gov. Kristi Noem (R) has signaled her intention to sign it. A ban in Tennessee may come soon after, since the state Senate earlier this month passed a bill banning transgender athletes using their chosen identity in middle school and high school sports by an overwhelming 27-6 vote.
Major sporting organizations, like the NCAA, have not taken much of a stance publicly when it comes to the transgender sports bans making their way through legislatures. NCAA spokesperson Gail Dent told the Washington Blade the NCAA “continues to closely monitor state bills” without stating a position either for or against the proposals.
Republican officials around the country expressed outrage over—and moved quickly to politicize—Biden’s executive order regarding transgender rights, which he issued on his first day in office. That order, called “Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation,” broadly extended existing protections in employment law to other areas of government oversight, including schools. It did not directly issue any new guidelines when it came to school sports, and Politifact rated the claim Biden “allowed males to compete in girls’ sports” as “false.” Still, that has not stopped Republicans around the country from issuing their own guidelines preemptively, as the GOP seems to become increasingly focused on it as a winning front in the culture wars. Should a legal challenge come for the Mississippi bill, state attorneys will be charged with overcoming the decision of a federal judge last year that overturned an Idaho ban on transgender athletes in school sports. Before Mississippi, Idaho was the first state to adopt such legislation.
Over 500 athletes sent a letter to the NCAA on Wednesday asking collegiate sports’ governing body to not hold championships in states that have either passed or are considering transgender bans in sports.
Mississippi gov signs bill limiting transgender athletes (The Associated Press)
Source: Forbes – Business