Mississippi, Utah, North Dakota and Tennessee have advanced bills which aim to prevent trans athletes from participating in school sports, despite an executive order from president Joe Biden calling for trans-inclusion. Mississippi lawmakers passed Senate Bill 2536 34-9. Utah senators were more hesitant over the state’s ‘preserving sports for female students’ act, but after two hours of debate it was passed with an 8-6 vote.
In North Dakota, House Bill 1298 cleared the chamber by a vote of 65-26, with those backing the legislation arguing that it’s purpose was to protect female athletes and not to target trans people. The advancement of the bill in Tennessee comes after state governor, Bill Lee, attacked trans athletes, saying: “They will destroy women’s sports. It will ruin the opportunity for girls to earn scholarships. It will put a glass ceiling back over women that hasn’t been there in some time. I think it’s bad for women and for women’s sports.”
The Human Rights Watch has spoken out against these states, saying there is not actually an issue with trans participation in sports: “These bills are not addressing any real problem, and they’re not being requested by constituents. Rather, this effort is being driven by national far-right organizations attempting to sow fear and hate. Opposing equality is highly unpopular – even among Trump voters – and states that pass legislation that attacks our community will face severe economic, legal, and reputational harm.”
A recent study also found that trans athletes pose no threat to cisgender women. The report argued there is no evidence to “support the claim that allowing transgender athletes to participate will reduce or harm participation in girls’ sports” and suggested anti-trans rhetoric relies on “scare tactics, stereotypes, and unwarranted claims that transgender women have a physiological advantage over cisgender women.”