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7 Jun, 2022 18:23

Louisiana bans trans athletes from female sports teams

Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards allowed the bill to pass on Monday
Louisiana bans trans athletes from female sports teams

Transgender athletes will no longer be able to take part in sports on girls and women's teams in Louisiana after a bill was passed to become law there on Monday.

Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards allowed the bill to pass despite previously saying he was opposed to the legislation and vetoing a similar bill last year.

On this occasion, Edwards said it was inevitable the bill would pass due to overwhelming support in the Senate and the House, and he therefore let it become law without his signature. 

"It was obvious to me after two years it was going to become law whether or not I signed or vetoed the bill," Edwards protested on Monday night.

The sports ban for transgender athletes on girls and women's team has been a pet project for Republican Franklinton Senator Beth Mizell for the past two years.

She says its intention is to protect girls and young women from having to face athletes who have biological advantages due to their sex at birth.

The bill passes at a time when figures such as former University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, who smashed a number of women's records in college swimming on the Ivy League institute's women's team last season, have divided public opinion. 

"What's become more apparent (since 2021) is we need to protect women's sports," remarked Republican Representative Laurie Schlegel while pointing to Thomas, who previously competed on UPenn's men's team, as an example during the debate.

Mizell told USA Today that women "have worked too hard for too long to get to the competitive level we have attained to now face an unfair playing field".

Those on the other side of the argument than Mizell, such as House Democratic Chairman Sam Jenkins of Shreveport, claimed that the bill bullies vulnerable transgender children in the state that is home to the city of New Orleans.

"These children, our children, will only see this as an attack," Jenkins said, also during the debate.

"These kids will see us as bullies. Some people are just flat out uncomfortable with the existence of transgender children in our state," he added.