West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, a
Republican, on Wednesday signed a bill that prohibits transgender
athletes from competing on girls' and women's sports teams.
House Bill 3293 bans participation at
the elementary, high school, and college level.
Justice had previously signaled he
would sign the bill.
“From the standpoint of how I feel
about it personally,” he said, “I just can't possibly get through
my head that it is the right thing for us at the middle school level
or a high school level in our state for me not to support the bill …
So, I do support the bill.”
West Virginia is the seventh state with
such a ban. Other states include Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee,
Mississippi, South Dakota, and Idaho. A federal judge has blocked
implementation of Idaho's law. Lawmakers
in Florida have approved a similar bill.
According to the Human Rights Campaign
(HRC), the nation's largest LGBT rights advocate, more than 200
anti-LGBT bills have been introduced in state legislatures this
session, 66 of which target transgender athletes.
“Transgender children are children,”
HRC President Alphonso David said in a statement. “They deserve the
ability to play organized sports and be part of a team, just like all
children. The lawmakers behind HB 3293 can’t name a single example
of a transgender child trying to gain an unfair competitive
advantage, which underscores that this is nothing more than a
politically motivated bill for the sake of discrimination itself.”
“By letting this cruel and
discriminatory legislation become law, Gov. Jim Justice is not only
hurting the health and safety of transgender children, but also West
Virginians who will suffer the consequences of this law – including
economic harm, expensive taxpayer-funded legal battles, and a
tarnished reputation,” he said.
Last month, the NCAA, the college
athletics regulatory body, warned that it would only hold
championships in locations “free of discrimination.”