Tennessee Governor Says Transgender Athletes ‘Will Destroy Women’s Sport’


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NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) – Republican Tennessee Governor Bill Lee on Wednesday said transgender girls should be banned from playing on college and high school athletic teams or they will “destroy women’s sport.”

“I believe transgender people who participate in women’s sports will destroy women’s sports,” Lee, who is running for re-election next year, told reporters. “It will ruin the possibility for girls to win scholarships. This will put a glass ceiling back on women who hadn’t been there for some time. I think it’s bad for women and for women’s sport.

Lee’s comments come as Tennessee Republicans began to advance a proposal this week requiring student-athletes to prove that the student’s gender matches the student’s “original” birth certificate in order to participate in public school sports. If a birth certificate is not available, parents must provide some other form of proof “indicating the student’s sex at the time of birth”.

Lee stopped before promising to sign the legislation if she made it to his office, but instead reiterated that he believed trans athletes would put “a glass ceiling on women who haven’t been there in quite some time.” time “.

Tennessee is one of a dozen states whose lawmakers are supporting gender-confirming athletics or health care restrictions for trans minors this year. The proposals come as a growing number of state high school athletic associations in the United States have allowed trans athletes to play on teams based on their gender identity, and the NCAA has trans-inclusive guidelines for all of its member schools.

Lawmakers debated a similar bill last year, where the proposal cleared the chamber of Tennessee House, but was ultimately blocked in the Senate.

It is not known how many transgender students participate in public school sports in Tennessee.

“What a hurtful thing for a leader to say. There has been no incident about it, ”Democratic Senator Heidi Campbell tweeted. “This is just hateful legislation, and there is no point in doubling down with an insult to our LGBTQ community.”

A leader of the Human Rights Campaign called Lee’s comments “ultra thin demagoguery,” saying the governor “has no interest in fairness, choosing instead to sow fear and demonize children in his state.” .

“Governor Lee has no idea what he’s talking about,” Deputy National Human Rights Campaigner Hope Jackson said in a statement. “We would like to engage with Governor Lee if he can actually cite a time when a transgender athlete in Tennessee ‘stole’ a scholarship from a cisgender athlete.”

Supporters of the bill argue that transgender girls, because they are born male, are naturally stronger, faster and fatter than those born female and therefore have an unfair advantage in sports.

Opponents counter that such proposals violate Title IX of the Federal Education Act prohibiting discrimination based on sex, as well as decisions of the United States Supreme Court and the 11th United States Court of Appeals. United. Additionally, others point to an executive order signed by Democratic President Joe Biden that bans discrimination based on gender identity in school sports and elsewhere.

“I will say that this particular executive order is a huge overbreadth of the federal government in the states,” Lee said Wednesday.

Currently, a similar Idaho law of 2020 has been blocked by a federal judge as a lawsuit makes its way through the courts.

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