Mississippi governor to sign bill banning trans athletes from women’s teams

State will become first to enact such a ban, saying ‘push for kids to adopt transgenderism is just wrong’

Tate Reeves, the Republican governor of Mississippi, is set to sign a bill on Thursday that will ban transgender athletes from competing on girls’ or women’s sports teams.

Mississippi will become the first state this year to enact such a ban, after a federal court blocked a similar Idaho law last year. Mississippi’s senate bill 2536 is set to become law on 1 July, although a legal challenge is possible.

Reeves, who has three daughters who play sports, has said that the bill is needed to “protect young girls from being forced to compete with biological males for athletic opportunities”. The governor added that the “push for kids to adopt transgenderism is just wrong”.

But critics pointed out that the legislation was designed to discriminate. “It’s about erasing and excluding trans people from participation in all aspects of public life,” said Jett Jonelis, the advocacy manager for the ACLU of South Dakota. The bill is likely to end up in federal court.

More than 20 states are currently proposing restrictions on athletics or gender-confirming health care for transgender minors this year. Conservative lawmakers are responding to an executive order by Joe Biden that bans discrimination based on gender identity in school sports and elsewhere. The US president signed the order on 20 January, the day he took office.

South Dakota’s state senate passed a bill that restricts transgender female athletes from competing on high school and college girls’ and women’s teams. Schools and athletics bodies will be required to collect written statements that document each student’s “reproductive biology”.

Kristi Noem, governor of South Dakota and considered a potential Republican candidate for US president in 2024, said she was “excited” to sign the bill, although critics say it may violate the Civil Rights Act by discriminating based on sex.

Meanwhile, Alphonso David, president of the LGBTQ civil rights group Human Rights Campaign, condemned the Mississippi bill.

“There is simply no justification for banning transgender girls and women from participating in athletics other than discrimination,” David said after the House passed it 3 March.

“While millions of people in Mississippi are waiting for urgent relief as it relates to Covid-19, the leaders of Mississippi are not focused on that. Rather, they’re focused on prioritizing bullying against transgender kids.”