News and Commentary

Third GOP Gov Moves To Protect Girls Sports: Athletes To Be Separated By Biological Sex, Not Gender Identity
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee gives the command to start engines prior to the NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on July 15, 2020 in Bristol, Tennessee.
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill Friday to “preserve women’s athletics and ensure fair competition” by separating sports by biological sex, as opposed to gender identity. The move would effectively ban transgender females, biological males who identify as females, from participating in girls sports.

Lee is the third Republican governor to sign such a bill. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed similar legislation Thursday, and Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves confirmed the biological sex separation earlier this month.

“I signed the bill to preserve women’s athletics and ensure fair competition,” Gov. Lee said via Twitter. “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.”

A fourth Republican governor, South Dakota’s Kristi Noem, made similar moves to shield girls sports Monday, though she stopped short of signing an executive order Republican legislators felt better protected female college athletes. Instead, Noem issued two orders, one of which pertained specifically to collegial sports, stating that the Board of Regents “should take any and all steps necessary within the law of the state to legally implement policies consistent” with the order, The Daily Wire reported.

The Biden administration’s Department of Justice last month withdrew support for a lawsuit brought by three high school female athletes that would block biological males from competing in girls’ sports in Connecticut, The Daily Wire reported. The suit was backed by Trump-nominated former Attorney General Bill Barr.

One of three girls who had brought the lawsuit, Alanna Smith, blasted the Biden administration over the withdrawal during a recent appearance on Fox News.

“I got involved after I ran against the biological males at the New England meet because in the 200 meter I took third place when I  should have gotten runner-up,” she said. “And it’s not really about placement but it’s all about knowing that I work so many hours a week to be able to get runner-up in New England’s [championships] as a freshman. And I am really disappointed in the news, because me and the other girls, Selina and Chelsea, have worked really hard to get our stories out there, to get people to realize that fairness needs to be restored in our sport and all other women’s sports.”

Smith added that “people should realize that a lot of biological females have missed out on making it to meets that really matter, like states and regionals, and the transgender athletes have taken spots on the podium that belong to biological females.”

“We train for so many days a week, so many hours to be able to be the best in our state and the best in our region, and these biological males are just taking it away from us and we really deserve it,” the athlete said.

President Joe Biden signed an executive order on January 20 stating, “Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports.”

According to the Austin American-Statesman, the order “does not impose any new guidelines that would immediately bring changes to school sports … Instead, it requires federal agencies, including the U.S. Education Department, to review existing policies and programs to determine whether they are in line with the new guidance prohibiting discrimination based on gender and sexuality, and to implement changes if needed.”

Related: Gov. Kristi Noem Passes On South Dakota Women’s Sports Bill, Issues Executive Orders Instead

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