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Governor Tate Reeves. Photo of AP
Mississippi's Governor Tate Reeves. Photo: AP 

Mississippi bans transgender athletes from participating on women's sports teams

Mississippi's Republican governor signed a bill Thursday that bans transgender athletes from participating in women's teams or competitions.

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The Republican governor of Mississippi, Tate Reeves, recently signed Mississippi Senate Bill 2536, which prohibits transgender athletes from participating in women's teams and competitions. The law would take effect as of July 1, although it is likely to be challenged through legal channels.

In several conservative states, lawmakers have been responding with such bans to an executive order from Democratic President Joe Biden that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity in school sports and other venues.

"Had it not been for the fact that President Biden as one of his first initiatives sat down and signed an executive order that, in my opinion, encourages transgenderism among our young population but had it not been for that we would not be here today," Governor Reeves said during a ceremony at the Mississippi Capitol.

The votes in the Mississippi Senate were only cast along party lines: most Republicans supported the bill while most Democrats opposed or abstained from voting. The conservative argument is that transgender girls are naturally stronger, faster, and bigger than non-transgender girls. 

Alphonso David, president of the LGBTQ civil rights organization Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement that the law passed in Mississippi could lead to more harassment of transgender people.

"This law is a solution in search of a problem, and Mississippi lawmakers have not provided any examples of Mississippi transgender athletes who have gamed the system to gain a competitive advantage, because none exist," David said.

There is already significant discrimination against trans youth in Mississippi: they are excluded from many activities and Biden's order was an attempt to counteract this problem.

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