One of President Biden’s first acts after assuming office was to sign an executive order removing the ban against transsexual people serving in the military which was signed into law by his predecessor. The move gave hope to the trans community that the new administration would provide protections sorely lacking in recent years. A little over one month into the Biden administration, however, states like Mississippi are voting in favor of laws fighting back against the president’s progressive stance on protections for the trans community, which leaves the trans community as a whole, but in particular Black trans kids particularly at risk.
Mississippi State Bill 2536 would disallow trans women and girls from participating in sports at the high school and college level. The bill passed the Mississippi State House in a vote of 81-28 and was approved in the Senate by a vote of 34-9 according to reporting by CNN. The bill is now on its way to the desk of the governor, who pledged on Twitter to support the discriminatory bill.
“In passing this unfounded and discriminatory legislation, the Mississippi Senate Accountability, Efficiency, and Transparency Committee is putting fear over facts and denying fundamental rights to transgender Mississippians in the process,” said Rob Hill, director of the Mississippi State Human Rights Campaign in a press release. “Anti-transgender legislation has done nothing but pose economic, reputational, and legal harm to states. These are not good faith efforts to address the concerns of constituents but rather politicians playing politics with LGBTQ lives to sow division. Rather than entertaining hateful legislation with no basis, Mississippi legislators should focus on COVID-19 recovery and economic relief.”
Opponents of the bill are quick to point out that not only is it discriminatory, but it will also ultimately harm the most marginalized members of an already marginalized community, Black transgender people. Black youth already are disproportionate targets of law enforcement and disciplinary actions at school, and this law may give such forces one more excuse to impose unjust punishments on them.
A report released by the National LGBTQ Task Force with the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) and the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) showed that Black trans folks experience dramatically higher rates of unemployment, homelessness, poverty, harassment, and murder than other minority groups and the population as a whole.
“As a Black trans community activist, I have made it my life’s duty to personally put my own life on the line daily,” Mikael Garner, CEO of Philadelphia-based Chosen With A Purpose Enterprise told The Daily Beast. “My life and the existence of my fellow trans brothers and sisters matter and cannot be overlooked, dismissed, nor erased. This is true especially for those of intersectional identity, being black and trans in America.”
The concern is especially high considering how involved Black youth are involved in sports throughout the state.
You know what’s not high in Mississippi? The number of instances in which a female athlete has been somehow damaged because she had to compete against a transgender girl. Actually, that number is probably zero.
“This hateful and unconstitutional bill is unnecessary — the bill sponsors have admitted that they do not know of a single instance of a Tennessee student facing any harm from a transgender athlete playing sports,” the Tennessee ACLU said in a statement to the Daily Beast. “Protecting women’s sports is important, but transgender girls do not threaten them.”
But outlawing trans women and girl athletes from competing could be devastating for their future, on and off the sports field.