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West Virginia governor ‘proudly’ signs cruel anti-trans sports bill into law

Josh Milton April 29, 2021
Jim Justice gestures with his hand in a white suit, pink shirt and pink tie outside

West Virginia governor and business mogul Jim Justice. (Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

West Virginia state governor Jim Justice signed Wednesday (28 April) a reviled anti-trans sports bill that activists say sends a “clear message that they don’t value trans lives”.

The law prohibits trans girls and women in the state from competing on a sports team in “any public secondary school or state institution of higher education”, HB3292 states.

The law, sponsored by 11 House Republicans, states that young athletes must play on teams according to their “biological sex”.

Narrowly passed by the Senate, which tacked on the college ban during its review earlier this month, the House of Delegates then overwhelmingly approved the legislation that Justice once said he’d be “proud” to sign.

“I’m absolutely all in,” the governor said earlier this month, CNN reported, before spouting what LGBT+ campaigners have described as tired myths about trans athletes that are “discriminatory, harmful and unscientific”.

“For whatever reason may be, we end up with a superior athlete that could just knock our girls right out of the competition,” Justice, the wealthiest person in West Virginia, said.

Bizarrely, defenders of the bill have also sought to tout banning trans athletes as something that would boost the population. It would drive residents to move into the state, Republican John Mandt said according to the Associated Press.

“This isn’t going to bring people to West Virginia,” gay Democrat Cody Thompson replied.

“This just sends a message across the country that we’re closed-minded and we don’t accept you for who you are.”

Mandt resigned in 2020 after allegedly saying “silly f****ts, dicks are for chicks” only to be reelected as a delegate.

West Virginia governor Jim Justice announces that he is switching parties to become a republican as then-president Donald Trump listen at a campaign rally
West Virginia governor Jim Justice announces that he is switching parties to become a republican as then-president Donald Trump listens. (Justin Merriman/Getty Images)

Now, Republicans must face up to the realities of their actions. Suicide prevention groups have urged lawmakers to dial back their attacks, fearing what dire consequences these dehumanising bills will have.

While some lawmakers have warned that sporting regulators may issue punitive reprisals to states that ban trans athletes, such as pulling tournaments or home games.

It’s the lastest broadside swung by the GOP to the already embattled trans community, who have watched with fear as dozens of state legislatures bulldoze a record number of anti-trans laws.

Similar measures have this year been passed in Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, South Dakota and most recently Alabama. But countless more have been stuffed into dockets – and many are hurtling towards becoming law.

Top trans and LGBT+ advocacy groups responded to West Virginia with what has become now an all-too-familiar sense of anger and disappointment.

Transgender children are children,” Human Rights Campaign president Alphonso David said in a statement to the press.

“They deserve the ability to play organised sports and be part of a team, just like all children.”

“This is an all-hands-on-deck moment,” vice president of Advocacy and Government Affairs at the Trevor Project Sam Brinton said in a press statement.

“Six states have now implemented anti-trans sports bans and we know it’s not because they care about ‘fairness’ in women’s sports.

“Lawmakers are sending a clear message that they don’t value trans lives and would prefer we did not exist entirely.”

More: trans athletes, West Virginia

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