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Senator Angela Hill sponsors bill preventing transgender girls from competing in girls sports

Mississippi’s Senate passed a bill to ban transgender women and girls from participating in women’s athletics at public high schools and universities on Thursday. The bill was sponsored by State Senator Angela Hill of Picayune.

Senate Bill 2536 would prevent transgender women or girls from competing on women or girls only athletic teams at public schools and universities.

Hill sponsored the same bill in 2020, but it did not pass the Senate. The 2021 version passed the Senate and now heads to the House. Hill believes the legislation will have support from the House and Gov. Tate Reeves.

On his first day in office President Joe Biden issued an executive order to prevent discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation in school sports and the workplace. Reeves criticized the order on Twitter, arguing that it will “force young girls like them to compete with biological males for access to athletics,” and “limit opportunity for so many competitors like my daughters.”

Hill said that several high school softball coaches in Mississippi have called her to express their concern about transgender athletes potentially competing on women’s teams. To her knowledge, there are not currently any transgender girls or women on women’s athletic teams in Mississippi’s public schools.

“Some of them were afraid to tell me too many details because they did not want to identify the schools, but they told me that it is imminent that it’s going to happen in Mississippi,” said Hill.

LGBTQ Advocacy group, the Human Rights Campaign in Mississippi, released a statement that the bill puts “transgender youth at risk of bullying, exclusion, and increased danger,” and “that transitioning for the sake of a competitive advantage is simply unrealistic.”

The bill originally included a section that would require athletes whose sex was disputed to prove their sex by having a physician examine their “internal and external reproductive anatomy,” check their testosterone levels and analyze their genetic makeup. That language was a source of contention, said Hill, so it was taken out.

Instead, if the bill passes, schools would be responsible for figuring out how to follow the guideline. Hill said that in her opinion, a birth certificate would be enough proof to allow an athlete whose sex was under scrutiny to compete. She believes this would be easy to enforce, as athletes are typically already required to provide documents like a birth certificate to prove their age.

“I’ve seen some things from the opposition and the news talk about the NCAA is going to come down…this does not violate a single NCAA rule,” said Hill. “Idaho passed this law last year. They have still been competing. So what you read from the detractors about the NCAA and federal funding, it’s all fake news,” said Hill.

According to reporting from the Associated Press, a federal judge temporarily blocked the 2020 Idaho law, so transgender athletes can compete in Idaho as a lawsuit challenging the law’s constitutionality proceeds in court.

When the Item reached out to the NCAA for comment, it responded with a statement similar to the one issued in January to address similar legislation—Montana’s HB 112.

“The NCAA continues to closely monitor state bills that impact transgender student-athlete participation. The NCAA believes in fair and respectful student-athlete participation at all levels of sport. The Association’s transgender student-athlete participation policy and other diversity policies are designed to facilitate and support inclusion. The NCAA believes diversity and inclusion improve the learning environment and it encourages its member colleges and universities to support the well-being of all student-athletes.”

The NCAA policy on transgender student athlete participation requires transgender women to complete a full year of testosterone suppression medication before competing on a women’s team.

Legislatures in Georgia, Tennessee, Arizona, Missouri, North Dakota, Connecticut, Utah, New Hampshire and Oklahoma are also considering bills focused on limiting how transgender athletes compete in sports.

Hill believes that without laws preventing transgender women from competing with cisgender female athletes, or females who were born biologically female, women’s sports will become a thing of the past.

“Biological women will just eventually stop trying. They can’t win against men,” said Hill. She said that the “most elite female athletes can be beaten by average men.”

The Human Rights Campaign statement argues that the Mississippi legislation is addressing a problem that does not exist.

“There is no evidence that there has been any problem in Mississippi that would prompt this kind of legislation – the only reason to legislate now is to codify fear and misunderstanding of transgender people into the law,” the statement reads.