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Mississippi Senate votes to ban transgender student athletes from women's sports

The Mississippi Senate voted 34 to 9 in favor of banning transgender athletes from competing on women's sports teams in the state's high schools and universities.

Mississippi Senate votes to ban transgender student athletes from women's sports
Cover Image Source: Getty Images/ LGBT activists and their supporters rally in support of transgender people on the steps of New York City Hall, October 24, 2018, in New York City. (Photo by Drew Angerer)

Mississippi and North Dakota are now one step closer to signing anti-trans legislation into law. On Thursday, lawmakers in both states advanced proposals that would prevent transgender student-athletes from competing in school sports in alignment with their gender identity. While the North Dakota state House of Representatives passed a bill that will prohibit youth transgender athletes from joining teams that match their gender identity, the Mississippi Senate voted 34 to 9 in favor of banning transgender athletes from competing on women's sports teams in the state's high schools and universities.




According to CNN, the "Mississippi Fairness Act" was sponsored by Republican Senator Angela Hill who told her colleagues prior to the vote that she'd "had numerous coaches across the state call me and believe that they feel that there is a need for a policy." While supporters of Senate Bill 2536 — which is now headed to the Mississippi House of Representatives for consideration — claim that permitting an athlete born male to compete in women's sports gives them an unfair advantage, those against the bill say that the proposals are discriminatory and harmful. "All this bill does is put transgender youth at risk of bullying, exclusion, and increased danger while discrimination and violence against transgender people is at a record high in this country," the Human Rights Campaign Mississippi State Director Rob Hill said in a press release.




"If legislators would simply listen to medical experts and transgender athletes, they might know that transitioning for the sake of a competitive advantage is simply unrealistic. So is the idea that transgender athletes even gain a supposed advantage in the first place," Hill added. "Rather than use this all-important legislative session to bully transgender youth, the Mississippi legislature would be wise to focus their efforts on economic relief and addressing the deadly COVID-19 pandemic that has taken the lives of more than 6,000 Mississippians."




On the other hand, responding to President Joe Biden's executive order extending protections against discrimination to gender identity and sexual orientation, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said that the order would take away from female athletes like his daughters who will have to "compete with biological males for access to athletics." Responding to the order on his Facebook page, Reeves wrote: "It will limit opportunity for so many competitors like my daughters. It is bad policy and it is wrong for America. I just don't understand why politicians are pushing children into transgenderism in the first place. I certainly don't understand why the President chose to make it a priority in his first days. And my heart breaks for the young women across America who will lose in this radical social experiment."




Meanwhile, the North Dakota state House of Representatives passed House Bill 1298 — that would restrict transgender high school athletes to competing in sports that correspond with their sex assigned at birth — by a vote of 65-26, reports the Grand Forks Herald. "This is about girls competing with girls, ensuring equal opportunity, and keeping a level playing field in girls' sports," said Rep. Kathy Skroch, R-Lidgerwood, a co-sponsor on the bill. "It upholds 50 years of progress and protecting women against discrimination and advocates for the preservation of biological standards." The bill reportedly also bans sporting events from receiving public funding if they have a trans athlete playing on a team that matches their gender identity.




"Some have said this bill just doesn't follow the science. We've got science going back well before the United States that backs this. This isn't new science. Men and women didn't just cease to exist. They've existed for a long time and we've been able to recognize the differences," said state Rep. Ben Koppelman (R), the bill's primary sponsor, according to KFYR. The legislation faces strong opposition from lawmakers from both parties and LGBT advocacy groups who called it a targeted anti-transgender bill. Speaking out against the bill, GOP State Rep. Greg Westlind argued that it opens North Dakota up to potential litigation and could result in the state losing national tournaments.




"It's about learning about yourself, being part of a team, solving problems, figuring out life. But we're gonna tell some kids you can't," said state House Minority Leader Josh Boschee (D). "And even though most of those kids aren't gonna go up for high school athletics because it's not within their skillset or desirability, they're gonna see the action made by this body and it's going to play into some unfortunate other decisions that they'll make."

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