Story at a glance

  • West Virginia is one of several states that have banned transgender children from participating in sports.
  • The state’s governor and other lawmakers pushing similar legislation have not been able to cite examples of participation in their own states that have caused concern.
  • At the same time, critics say the legislation is stigmatizing and discriminatory against transgender students.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) admitted that he couldn't name a single example when pressed by MSNBC reporter Stephanie Ruhle to name an instance where a transgender athlete in his state outcompeted cisgender athletes with an unfair advantage. In fact, the bill he recently signed banning transgender athletes from participating in school sports wasn’t even a priority, he said Friday. 

“I mean, it’s just come to me, and I have absolutely signed it, because I believe from the standpoint of a coach, I believe that girls work so hard to obtain Title IX, and I do not have any idea now why we are trying to disadvantage them in participating in a sport that they put so much into,” he told Ruhle. 


READ MORE LGBTQ+ STORIES FROM CHANGING AMERICA

FLORIDA’S NEW BAN ON TRANSGENDER STUDENTS IN SPORTS WOULD ALLOW SCHOOLS TO SUBJECT MINORS TO GENITAL INSPECTIONS

NCAA BACKS TRANSGENDER ATHLETES, SAYS IT WON’T HOLD CHAMPIONSHIPS AT PLACES THAT AREN’T ‘FREE OF DISCRIMINATION’]

NEW NC BILL WOULD REQUIRE SCHOOLS TO TELL PARENTS IF A CHILD ‘EXHIBITS GENDER NONCONFORMITY’


West Virginia is the latest in a series of states signing bills restricting the rights of transgender children from participating in sports that critics say is a solution in search of a problem. Medical experts agree that there is no scientific basis for this legislation, which advocates claim are intended to protect the rights of cisgender children in sports.

The Associated Press reported only a few documented instances where transgender girls participating in sports has caused major issues, but a lack of evidence didn't stop more than two dozen state lawmakers sponsoring such bills across the country. Some backers cite a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine that athletes who are actively transitioning retain some advantage for up to two years on hormone therapy, despite other research showing that transgender women are slowed down by hormones.


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


While some lawmakers claim the laws are preemptive, critics note that the message it sends to transgender children is harmful to their mental health — a case where it's not better “safe” than sorry. 

"Why would you take your time to do this? Let’s talk about other things that I can give you examples of in your state. According to U.S. News & World Report, West Virginia ranks 45th in education, 47th in health care, 48th on the economy and 50th in infrastructure. If you cannot name one single example for me of a child doing this, why would you make this a priority? I just named four things that would seem to me like a much bigger priority," Ruhle said. 


READ MORE LGBTQ+ STORIES FROM CHANGING AMERICA

ARKANSAS AND SOUTH DAKOTA PASS LBGTQ BANS THAT TARGET TRANSGENDER MINORS

TRANSGENDER STUDENT WINS $300K FROM SCHOOL IN DISCRIMINATION CASE

FIRST TRANSGENDER US OFFICIAL WINS SENATE CONFIRMATION

MISSISSIPPI BANS TRANSGENDER ATHLETES FROM COMPETING ON GIRLS’ OR WOMEN’S SPORTS TEAMS


 

Published on Apr 30, 2021