Respect Equality

Louisiana House passes transgender athlete ban

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) vetoed a nearly identical bill last year.
Sen. Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton, speaks in the Senate Chambers during a veto session in Baton Rouge, La., Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Story at a glance

  • Louisiana’s House of Representatives on Tuesday voted to pass legislation to bar transgender women and girls through college from competing on sports teams consistent with their gender identity.

  • The measure now heads back to the Senate, where it originated, for final approval before it is sent to the governor’s desk.

  • Louisiana’s governor vetoed a similar bill last year, making the passage of this measure unlikely.

Louisiana House lawmakers on Tuesday passed a bill aiming to prevent transgender women and girls in the state from competing on school sports teams aligning with their gender identity. The measure now heads back to the Senate, where it was first introduced in February, for final approval before it is sent to the governor’s desk.

Under the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” Louisiana K-12 schools, as well as universities, would be required to designate sports teams according to the “biological sex of the team members.”

“Teams designated for females are not open to participation by biological males,” the measure, sponsored by Louisiana Senate President Pro Tempore Beth Mizell (R), reads. Mizell’s bill does not include a similar clause for athletes assigned female at birth. 

The legislation argues that inherent biological differences exist between females and males, and transgender women and girls hold a natural advantage over cisgender women and girls in athletic competition because of greater strength, speed and endurance developed by going through male puberty.

America is changing faster than ever! Add Changing America to your Facebook or Twitter feed to stay on top of the news.

“This is all about women having fair competition in sports,” Mizell wrote earlier this month on Facebook. “Let’s get it done this time.”

A nearly identical bill — also introduced by Mizell — was vetoed last year by Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, who called it “a solution in search of a problem.”

“This bill will not be signed into law because it is targeted, unfairly, at children,” Edwards wrote in a veto message at the time. “This legislation will make life more difficult for children who are going through unique challenges gaining acceptance into their schools, communities, and sometimes even their own families. It should be our role, as leaders in this state, to reach out to and lift up these children, rather than to ostracize them.”

Edwards argued that Mizell’s measure was especially unnecessary because the Louisiana High School Association already has a policy in place stating that student athletes may only compete on sports teams that match the gender listed on their birth certificate. The policy does not apply to transgender students who have undergone gender-affirming surgeries — which are not recommended for minors.

Should Edwards’ imminent veto be overridden by the legislature, Louisiana would be the ninth state this year to enact a law expressly banning transgender athletes from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity.

Eighteen states since 2020 have passed similar laws, although temporary injunctions are currently blocking the enforcement of transgender athlete bans in Idaho and West Virginia. A lawsuit is currently pending against another ban in Florida that prevents biological males from competing on women’s or girl’s sports teams in the state.