The leader of Mississippi has hailed an “important” new piece of legislation prohibiting transgender athletes from competing on women’s sports teams in high schools and universities, leaving some human rights campaigners dismayed.
Republican chief Tate Reeves said the first anti-trans legislation approved by a governor this year would “ensure that young girls in Mississippi have a fair, level playing field in public schools”, carrying out a symbolic public signing after supporters of similar bills argued that trans women have a physical advantage over athletes born as women.
Statehouses across the US, including in the Republican-governed South Dakota, are reportedly close to voting on similar laws, although the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which is the country’s largest LGBTQ rights group, has dismissed them as discriminatory.
The Mississippi House voted 81-28 to pass the bill, which orders that male students will not be allowed to compete in female sports, although it does not elaborate on how genders will be determined by law and how the likely challenges that will materialize will be addressed.
I never imagined dealing with this, but POTUS left us no choice. One of his first acts was to sign an EO encouraging transgenderism in children. So today, I proudly signed the Mississippi Fairness Act to ensure young girls are not forced to compete against biological males. pic.twitter.com/INZgKQRMJr
— Tate Reeves (@tatereeves) March 11, 2021
You never imagined there would be trans people?? What a hateful bigot you are @tatereeves We are people deserving of rights and dignity. Call me, I’d love to chat.
— Maebe A. Girl (@Maebe_A_Girl) March 12, 2021
Thank you Governor!! We appreciate you standing firm in what is honorable even when the beasts of ‘wokeness’ are snarling.
— nate (@Chopperplt) March 11, 2021
“It sends a clear message to my daughters, and all of Mississippi’s daughters, that their rights are worth fighting for,” announced Reeves after the state senate voted 34-9 in favor, although CNN countered that “trans women athletes in the state are also daughters and are precisely the ones whose rights are being targeted by the new law.”
Alphonso David, the president of HRC, said there were no examples of state transgender athletes “gaming the system” to gain an edge, adding that “none exist”.
Chase Strangio, the American Civil Liberties Union deputy director for trans justice, compared the legislation to rules that had previously seen Republicans attempt to restrict trans students from using bathrooms in line with their gender identities.
And this is why I, and other young people like me, will be leaving this backwards state ASAP.
— Max (@robespierresson) March 11, 2021
I wasn’t aware that this was such a big problem?? Could somebody please provide some statistics on just how often this issue comes up in Mississippi youth sports?
— Gibu (@gibu02) March 11, 2021
If you don’t think there is a liberal agenda in this country, you are sorely mistaken. It’s a slow process, but a definite process. Eventually people get tired of people preaching love and tolerance and then turning around and canceling those that disagree.
— london (@LondonValley) March 11, 2021
“Just like it was never about restrooms, this bill is not about sports,” he said, while David slated what he described as Reeves’ “appalling” desire to lead “the latest anti-transgender push”. “It’s about pushing trans people out of public life,” added Strangio.
In South Dakota, governor Kristi Noem said she was “excited” to seal similar legislation, explaining that it would ensure “girls’ fairness in girls’ sports.”
“We are still examining the bill, getting ready to make decisions on it,” she said by way of qualifying her remarks, according to CNN.