The Mississippi House of Representatives has voted to pass a bill that will ban transgender athletes from competing on female sports teams in schools and universities.
The Republican-dominated House voted by a margin of 81-28 in favour of Senate Bill 2536 on Wednesday (3 March). Six representatives did not vote, and seven voted “present,” which counts neither for nor against the bill.
It now heads to the desk of Republican governor Tate Reeves, who is expected to sign it into law after previously accusing Joe Biden of “pushing children into transgenderism”.
The discriminatory bill marks the first piece of specifically anti-trans legislation to be added to the books in 2021. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely to be the last.
SB 2536 is just one of a raft of anti-trans bills launched in at least 20 states, which advocates warn are part of a coordinated attack designed to “sow fear and hate” against the transgender community.
“As thousands die each day of COVID-19 and millions of Americans are out of work, some state legislatures have chosen to attack, demean and dehumanise their constituents rather than focus on delivering relief and assistance,” said Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign.
“These dangerous bills are designed to make the lives of transgender kids more difficult while they try to navigate their adolescence… This is just the latest iteration of their losing fight against equality and a shameful attempt to throw a wrench in the progress we’re making with a pro-equality president and Congress.”
He is far from the first to point out that that anti-trans sports bills are “legislating against problems that simply do not exist” and are driven by national far-right organisations rather than being requested by constituents.
In fact, the ACLU notes that in many states, the very same cis girls who have claimed that trans athletes have an “unfair” advantage have consistently performed as well as or better than transgender competitors.
This supports the many trans rights advocates and scientists who have long highlighted that there is no body of evidence indicating trans girls and women actually have an unfair advantage over their cisgender counterparts.
In fact, studies examining testosterone in trans women found that their athletic ability overlaps with the range that you would find in cisgender women.
It’s also been noted that any athlete, male or female, transgender or cisgender, can have competitive advantages for many reasons besides hormones, including body size, access to training, and more.
“Mississippi is so determined to be on the wrong side of history that it is defying the evidence in favour of discrimination,” Alphonso David said.
“There is simply no justification for banning transgender girls and women from participating in athletics other than discrimination. Like all girls, transgender girls just want to play and be part of a team with their friends.
“History will not look kindly on this moment in Mississippi.”