The Mississippi House passed a bill Wednesday banning transgender athletes from playing on girls or women's sports teams in the state's schools and universities.
Republican Governor Tate Reeves is expected to sign the bill into law in the next couple of days. Mississippi is among more than 20 states across the country considering restrictions on athletics or gender-affirming health care for transgender minors in 2021.
According to The Associated Press, Republican Representative Becky Currie shared a text with her colleagues explaining the bill, saying "girls deserve to compete on a level playing field."
"Allowing males to compete in girls' sports destroys fair competition and women athletic opportunities," Currie said.
Supporters of the state's bill believe transgender girls are stronger, faster and bigger than other girls, giving them an advantage. Critics of the bill say the science is unsettled and argue that the bill violates Title IX of federal law on sex discrimination and rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court and 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Within hours of taking office in January, President Joe Biden signed an executive order banning discrimination based on gender identity in school sports and elsewhere. Reeves responded with a tweet saying he was "disappointed over President Biden's actions to force young girls like [my daughters] to compete with biological males for access to athletes."
The Republican-dominated Mississippi House voted 81–28 Wednesday to pass Senate Bill 2536, with six representatives not voting and seven voting "present." The Senate—also controlled by Republicans—passed the bill 34–9 in February.
Girls and women who compete in youth, high school and college sports, whether they’re transgender or cisgender, will be subject to being challenged by competitors on their biological sex—in essence, forced to prove their womanhood. If found to not be “female,” they would not be able to compete with girls and women.
Idaho's law remains on hold as it faces a legal review in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.