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Mississippi gov. signs law banning transgender athletes from playing women’s sports

Gov. Tate Reeves owns the dubious distinction of signing the first trans sports ban in 2021.

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Tate Reeves followed through with this promise to sign legislation barring transgender athletes from competing on girls or women’s sports teams.
Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

It will be illegal for transgender athletes to play girl’s or women’s sports in Mississippi starting July 1 — barring legal challenges.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signed Senate Bill 2536 into law Thursday, blocking trans girls and women from playing on teams in accordance to their gender identity. The first-term Republican previously issued steadfast support for the discriminatory measure.

“I will sign our bill to protect young girls from being forced to compete with biological males for athletic opportunities,” he tweeted March 4.

Chase Strangio, Deputy Director for Trans Justice with the ACLU LGBTQ & HIV Project, issued a statement in response to the now-signed measure: “Governor Tate Reeves has signed into law the first anti-trans bill to pass in 2021. This bill will hurt Mississippi’s economy but most upsetting, it will hurt transgender youth in Mississippi. We call on the Biden administration to ensure our federal civil rights laws are fully enforced - including those that protect transgender youth from discrimination in schools.

“To the trans youth in Mississippi who have been needlessly and cruelly targeted: The government cannot and will not be able to stop you from being who you are. we will never stop fighting for you.”

Mississippi’s is one of 20 states considering restrictions on athletics or gender-confirming health care for transgender kids. The South Dakota Senate also passed legislation this week that would outlaw transgender women from playing women’s sports. Gov. Kristi Noem said she is “excited” to sign the bill when it crosses her desk.

The atavistic wave of anti-trans legislature is in response to President Joe Biden’s pro-LGBTQ platform, including his administration’s decision to outlaw discrimination based on gender identity in school and other public buildings.

Idaho enacted the first trans sports ban last year, but a federal court issued an injunction blocking the edict. History says Mississippi can expect similar legal challenges.

On Wednesday, nearly 550 college athletes wrote a letter demanding the NCAA pull championships from states with anti-trans measures on the books. The NCAA postponed its decision last summer to move March Madness tournament games out of Boise, but the decision wound up being moot, with the organization opting to hold its hallmark event at a singular location to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The long-running debate on trans sports inclusion has seemingly reached a breaking point, with Republicans across the country resorting to a familiar scare tactic: demonizing LGBTQ people. Mississippi’s capital city still has no running water due to last month’s winter storms, but at least the governor is focused on matters of true importance, like preventing trans kids from playing sports.

We anxiously await the pushback.