Mississippi governor will sign bill limiting transgender athletes

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JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi is set to become the first state this year to enact a law banning transgender athletes from competing on girls or women’s sports teams.

Republican Gov. Tate Reeves said Thursday he will sign a bill when it reaches his desk, probably in the next few days.

Reeves’ bill, titled the Mississippi Fairness Act is set to go into effect on July 1.

Democratic President Joe Biden signed an order on his first day as president, banning discrimination based on gender identity in school sports and elsewhere. Reeves says that “forced the issue.”

There have not been any known examples of trans athletes attempting to participate in sports across the Magnolia State. Reeves says his bill will act preventively.

“I can’t personally give you any examples at this time, but that’s the reason the Fairness Act is in place. It’s to ensure it doesn’t happen in the future,” Reeves said.

However, LGBTQ advocates are concerned about the effect outright exclusion could have on a teenage transgender athlete that is looking for acceptance and comradery.

Alphonso David is president the LGBTQ civil rights organization Human Rights Campaign. He says Mississippi lawmakers are “prioritizing bullying against transgender kids.”

“You worry about what that means for their mental health that’s already on kind of shaky ground for a lot of trans people,” said Alex Hauptman, transgender services manager with OutMemphis.

Lawmakers in several states are pushing similar legislation, leading to concerns if Mississippi is the first domino to fall, trans athletes could be left sitting on the bench across the country.

“I know there’s at least a half a dozen that have them in the works,” Hauptman said. “Now they have that looming over the back of their head that their school, their extracurricular activities are going to be under attack next.”

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