Tennessee Gov. Lee signs law restricting transgender women in sports

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed a state bill into law Friday banning transgender women from participating in women's sports. Photo courtesy of Office of the Governor

March 28 (UPI) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has signed a bill into law banning transgender students from playing sports according to their gender identity.

The bill forces transgender students to compete in middle or high school school sports based on their gender according to their sex at birth instead of their gender identity, a bill summary shows.

“I signed the bill to preserve women’s athletics and ensure fair competition,” Lee tweeted Friday. “This legislation responds to damaging federal policies that stand in opposition to the years of progress made under Title IX and I commend members of the General Assembly for their bipartisan work.”

Tennessee is the third state to enact such legislation this year. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson similarly signed into law a bill to ban transgender women from participating on girls’ and women’s sports teams Thursday. Earlier this month, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves also signed into law similar legislation.

The American Civil Liberties Union has condemned such laws as discriminatory.

“Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in America continue to face discrimination in their daily lives,” the ACLU said in a statement earlier this month. “While more states every year work to pass laws to protect LGBTQ people, we continue to see state legislatures advancing bills that target transgender people, limit local protections, and allow the use of religion to discriminate.”

Alabama passed a bill in the House of Representatives earlier this month to prohibit transgender athletes from competing in sports in K-12 schools according to their gender identity, sending it to the Senate.

According to the ACLU, Alabama is one of more than 25 states considering bills to exclude transgender youth from athletics this year.

Recent consideration and passage of these bills comes despite President Joe Biden signing an executive order in January seeking to bar gender discrimination in school sports.

“I will say that particular executive order is a tremendous overreach of the federal government into the states,” Lee said in a press conference. “I do believe that transgenders participating in women’s sports will destroy women’s sports. It will ruin the opportunity for girls to earn scholarships.”


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