Tennessee Governor Signs Ban on Trans Athletes for Collegiate Sports

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Tennessee Governor Bill Lee (right) signed into law a bill on Friday banning transgender women from competing on college sports teams that match their gender identity.

Why is this important: It builds on similar laws targeting high school sports, which have swept the country in the past year. Republicans supporting the bills say this type of legislation ensures fairness in women’s sports, although several states that have passed such bans have been unable to provide evidence showing that trans athletes have unfair advantages in competitions.

Details: A summary of the bill states that a “higher education institution must rely on the gender indicated on the student’s original birth certificate issued at or near the time of birth” .

  • The measure also protects schools that follow the law, as well as students who report violations.
  • If a violation “deprives a student of an athletic opportunity or causes direct or indirect harm to the student, then the student will have a private cause of action for injunctive relief, damages, and other relief, plus costs and including attorney’s fees.”

What they say : LGBTQ advocates criticized the bill’s enactment on Friday.

  • “This law sends a horrific message that trans and non-binary youth may be excluded from the many benefits of sports participation,” Chris Sanders, executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, said in a statement.
  • “Legislation crafted out of animosity and ignorance protects no one.”

The big picture: LGBTQ advocates and health experts have warned that the series of anti-trans bills will contribute to mental health crises among children.

  • 83% of trans and non-binary youth said they were concerned about trans people being denied the opportunity to play sports due to state or local laws, according to a recent survey published by The Trevor Project, a organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth under the age of 25.

Go further… Poll: The mental health of most LGBTQ children is negatively affected by anti-trans legislation

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