Mississippi first state to pass limits on transgender athletes in 2021 after governor signs bill

·2 min read

The governor of Mississippi signed a bill banning transgender athletes from competing on girls or women's sports teams, making the state the first this year to enact such a law.

Republican Gov. Tate Reeves signed the Senate Bill 2536 as expected on Thursday. It will become law on July 1, though it could face a legal challenge. A federal court blocked a similar Idaho law last year, writing it "stands in stark contrast to policies of elite athletic bodies that regulate sports both nationally and globally" including the NCAA and IOC.

Mississippi one of 20 states pushing transgender regulations

Mississippi is the first this year to pass the law, but counts itself as one of more than 20 states attempting it. Bills around the country are aiming to place restrictions on athletics and/or gender-confirming health care for transgender minors.

It is a Republican response to Democratic President Joe Biden issuing an executive order on his first day in office that bans discrimination based on gender identity in schools, health care, the workplace and other areas.

Reeves noted that order in a ceremony at the Mississippi Capitol on Thursday with other legislators supporting the bill. Via the Associated Press:

“But for the fact that President Biden as one of his first initiatives sat down and signed an executive order — which, in my opinion, encourages transgenderism amongst our young people — but for that fact, we wouldn't be here today,” Reeves said.

The state senate passed the bill Feb. 11 and the house passed it March 3. Votes were almost entirely along party lines. Reeves, the father of three daughters who play sports, said in a tweet on March 4 that he would sign the bill "to protect young girls from being forced to compete with biological males for athletic opportunities."

LGBTQ org calls it 'solution in search of a problem'

Alphonso David, president of Human Rights Campaign, a LGBTQ civil rights organization, issued a statement that read in part:

“This law is a solution in search of a problem, and legislators in Mississippi have not provided any examples of Mississippi transgender athletes gaming the system for a competitive advantage because none exist. While transgender athletes have been competing at every level for years without incident, Governor Reeves is signing this bill while Mississippians continue to suffer and real issues go unaddressed. Bullying transgender kids is no way to govern the state out of the crises they face. While he claims this bill is necessary pushback against the Biden Administration, he is ignoring the fact that 35 anti-transgender sports bills were introduced during the Trump presidency last year, including in Mississippi.”

A transgender-rights attorney at the national ACLU level told the AP it seems "vague and seemingly unenforceable."

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