Republican Alabama governor Kay Ivey has signed legislation banning trans athletes from competing on teams matching their gender identities – turning a nightmare into reality.
Ivey signed House Bill 391 into law on Friday (23 April) afternoon, according to CNN. The bill states: “A public K-12 school may not allow a biological female to participate on a male team if there is a female team in a sport. A public K-12 school may never allow a biological male to participate on a female team.”
It also says that no publicly-funded K-12 school is allowed to “participate in, sponsor, or provide coaching staff for interscholastic athletic events at which athletes are allowed to participate in competition against athletes who are of a different biological gender, unless the event specifically includes both biological genders”.
Alabama Republican congressman Scott Stadthagen, who sponsored the anti-trans bill, praised Ivey for signing the bill. He thanked Ivey for her “leadership and for protecting the rights of Alabama’s female athletes” in a tweet on Friday.
“Standing up for what is right is not always easy, but it is always the right thing to do,” Stadthagen wrote.
But the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) said the bill is discriminatory and harmful to not only trans athletes, but the entire state of Alabama as well. Carmarion D Harvey-Anderson, HRC’s Alabama state director, said in a statement that the “shameful” bill is “built on a web of lies and misinformation” that directly targets trans youth.
“Transgender youth have been playing sports consistent with their gender identity for years without incident on the collegiate and professional level,” Harvey-Anderson said. “They just want access to the same childhood experiences as their peers.”
She added that HB 391 will not just hurt trans kids but all of Alabama. Harvey-Anderson explained: “It will hurt all Alabamans because the consequences of this law — economic harm, expensive taxpayer-funded legal battles, and a tarnished reputation — will ripple across the state.”
The National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) has issued a statement declaring its support for trans student-athletes and said it will choose locations for its tournaments where “hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination”.
The HRC said Alabama is one of 30 states that has introduced anti-LGBT+ legislation this year, with many bills being aimed directly at the rights of trans Americans.
The organisation said there are over 250 anti-LGBT+ bills under consideration in state legislatures across the US, and more than 120 directly target trans people. Of these bills, at least 66 bills ban trans girls from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity – like HB 391 in Alabama.
Alabama is the fourth state to sign such a bill into law this year. Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee have signed similar bills banning trans student-athletes from participating on teams that align with their gender identity.