Mississippi state lawmakers passed legislation to ban transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports, making the bill the first of its kind to be sent to a governor’s desk this year.
The Mississippi Republican-controlled House voted 81 to 28 with 13 not voting on Wednesday to pass S.B. 2536, which prohibits “students of the male sex” from athletic teams or sports designated for women at high schools and universities throughout the state.
The partisan bill with 22 Republican sponsors had passed the Mississippi House on Feb. 11 by a vote of 34 to 8 with 9 not voting and now heads to Gov. Tate Reeves’ desk, who has previously made disparaging comments about transgender athletes.
Idaho last year became the first state to sign into law legislation to ban transgender youth from participating in women’s sports but it was later blocked by a federal judge.
According to data complied as of late last month by the American Civil Liberties Union, Mississippi is one of 26 states this year considering to pass similar bills.
Human Rights Campaign said Wednesday that the Mississippi law is the first this year to make it to a governor’s desk.
Alphonso David, president of the organization, said the purpose of these laws is to make the lives of transgender youth more difficult.
“There is simply no justification for banning transgender girls and women from participating in athletics other than discrimination,” David said in a statement. “Like all girls, transgender girls just want to play and be part of a team with their friends. History will not look kindly on this moment in Mississippi.”
The bill was passed after President Joe Biden signed an executive order on his first day in office in January to combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, including in spaces such as restrooms, locker rooms and school sports.
Reeves, the state’s Republican governor, responded to the executive order in a Facebook post in early February, stating he was “disappointed” with it.
“I just don’t understand why politicians are pushing children into transgenderism in the first place,” he said. “And my heart breaks for the young women across America who will lose in this radical social experiment.”
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