A US governor has been accused of attempting to enact ‘hate legislation’ after vowing to ban transgender girls from participating in high school sports. Tennessee Governor Bill Lee backed a proposed bill on Wednesday, saying: ‘I do believe that transgenders participating in women’s sports 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.’
Lee and his supporters argue that transgender girls may have a biological advantage over their cisgender competitors that can make them stronger, faster and more powerful.
They have begun pushing for a new proposal to be enshrined in Tennessee state law that would order students to show their birth certificate before competing in public school sports.
Students would only be allowed to compete against members of whatever sex is listed in that certificate.
But Tennessee State Senator Heidi Campbell quickly condemned Lee’s proposal, saying: ‘What a hurtful thing for a leader to say.’ Campbell continued: ‘There have been zero incidents of this being an issue. This is just hate legislation, and to double down with an insult to our LGBTQ community is unnecessary.’
Lee’s proposal also risks falling foul of US federal law banning sex discrimination. Last year, the US Supreme Court ruled that sex discrimination laws protected people who had been discriminated against for being transgender.
And one of the first executive orders signed by President Joe Biden banned all forms of discrimination against transgender people, including in sports and in the US military.
Addressing that order, Lee claimed it had been ‘a tremendous overreach of the federal government into the states.’ Opponents of Biden’s executive order say they plan to challenge it in the courts.
In May 2020, the US Education Department ruled that the state of Connecticut’s decision to allow trans girls to compete against cis girls in school sports violated the rights of the latter.
Connecticut hit the headlines after two trans sprinters, Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood, won a combined 15 state championship races in a three year period, sparking accusations of unfairness.
The state’s attorney general William Tong vowed to contest the Department of Education ruling, and legal challenges are ongoing.
On Tuesday, Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the executive order, and its potential impact on girls’ sports, during a White House press briefing.
Psaki said: ‘I would just say that the president’s belief is that trans rights are human rights, and that’s why he signed that executive order.’
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