States Move to Ban Transgender Women from Sports


Chloe Wong, Staff Writer

States across the U.S. are pushing to ban transgender women from sports. Proponents of such legislation claim that transgender women have a natural biological advantage over their cisgender competitors. On Mar. 11, a Mississippi law legalized the exclusion of transgender women and girls from sports. The bill, known as SB 2536, was signed by Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves and passed 81 to 28 in the Mississippi House. When put into motion, it will require all athletes to compete per their sex assigned at birth. 

SB 2536 will “ensure that young girls in Mississippi have a fair, level playing field in public schools,” said Governor Reeves.

Governor Reeves added that the bill was a triumph for equality for Mississippi’s women and girls, yet the legitimacy of such claims has been questioned. Although some studies suggest that transgender women have a higher muscle mass than cisgender women, scientific research hasn’t been entirely thorough, and transgender advocates have condemned bills of SB 2536’s kind as bigoted and discriminatory.

24 other states have already joined Mississippi in introducing similar legislation, including Tennessee, Alabama, Montana, Arkansas, and Missouri. In South Dakota, Governor Kristi Noem refused to sign a bill similar to SB 2536—not issuing an outright veto, but rather suggesting that such a ban only be applied to middle and high school students while exempting transgender college students.

Governor Noem is a Republican, and banning transgender women from sports is a supported stance within her political party. Still, some critics say that even a compromise such as the one Governor Noem is suggesting is transphobic, regardless of whether or not the athletes are college-age.

In 2020, geneticist Dr. Eric Vilain stated that all elite athletes have physical advantages over other people.

Prohibiting transgender women’s participation in sports, Dr. Vilain said, would be akin to “saying Usain Bolt’s abilities are unfair because he wins by so much each time.”

“Governor Reeves signing this bill is incredibly disappointing and dangerous; the collateral consequences on transgender youth are significant,” said Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “This is not an abstract principle. When you tell a transgender child or teenager that their identity is in their heads—that it’s imaginative, it’s not real—it has significant collateral consequences.”

Governor Noem recently confirmed two executive orders that would, in effect, bar transgender women from sports. The order mentions the presence of males in women’s sports, a common argument used to imply that transgender women are still men—even though there is no single biological factor that determines gender. 

The continuing debate is one that grows increasingly heated with every new piece of legislation, as one side claims to support equality while the other prioritizes fairness. While our society has come a long way in terms of promoting inclusivity and equality, the recent move to block transgender women’s involvement in sports demonstrates that there may still be a long way to go.


Graphic courtesy of SI.COM