JACKSON, Mississippi (AP) – Republican Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves on Thursday said he would soon sign a bill prohibiting transgender athletes from participating in female or female sports teams at state schools and universities .
Alphonso David, president of the LGBTQ Human Rights Campaign, is strongly critical of Mississippi and other states considering such legislation.
“While millions of people in Mississippi await urgent relief in regards to COVID-19, Mississippi leaders are not focusing on this. Rather, they are focused on prioritizing bullying against transgender children, ”David said at an online news conference Thursday.
Reeves said on Twitter that the bill “would protect young girls from being forced to compete with biological men for athletic opportunities.”
“It’s crazy that we have to fix it, but the Biden EO has forced the issue,” Reeves tweeted Thursday. “Adults? It’s on them. But pushing kids to adopt transgender is just plain wrong.”
Democratic President Joe Biden on Jan.20 – the day he took office – signed an executive order banning discrimination based on gender identity in school sports and elsewhere. Mississippi is one of more than 20 states where lawmakers are proposing restrictions on athletics or gender-confirming health care for transgender minors this year.
Senate Bill 2536 is expected to be submitted to Reeves in the coming days. The House passed it on Wednesday and the Senate passed it last month. Republicans control both houses. Votes for the bill were largely along party lines, with most Republicans supporting it and most Democrats opposing or abstaining from voting.
Republican lawmakers who pushed for the bill gave no evidence of transgender athletes competing in Mississippi schools or universities.
A Mississippi mother with a transgender daughter spoke at the Human Rights Campaign press conference Thursday. Katy Binstead said her daughter was previously barred from playing on a college girls’ basketball team due to the gender listed on her birth certificate. Binstead said the manager said his daughter might try to play on the boys’ team.
“My daughter isn’t comfortable playing with boys because she’s not a boy and has never been a boy,” Binstead said.
Jarvis Dortch, executive director of the Mississippi Civil Liberties Union, said Thursday that the transgender sports bill was an example of lawmakers “legislating on hate and fear.”
“The purpose of SB2536 is not to protect female athletes,” Dortch said. “It’s to tell transgender children that they don’t belong, that they’re not welcome.”
Supporters of bills like the Mississippi one argue that transgender girls, because they are born male, are naturally stronger, faster, and fatter than those born female. Opponents say such proposals violate not only Title IX of the Federal Education Act prohibiting gender discrimination, but also rulings of the United States Supreme Court and the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals.
Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter at http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus.
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