Another state has officially joined the growing effort to ban transgender females from participating in female sports. Nearly a dozen other states have already joined the initiative, and many of these laws have been passed within the last few months. Now, the Republican trifecta state of South Carolina has barred transgender sports as well, amid growing tensions throughout the nation concerning LGBTQ and transgender rights.
Republican Governor Henry McMaster signed the South Carolina transgender sports bill into law on Monday, May 16th, in a quiet manner, without ceremony according to The Associated Press. The new law bars transgender girls from playing female sports in both public schools and college sports as well. Within the bill’s text, students are only allowed to play on a female sports team if their birth certificate identifies them as a female.
McMaster was long expected to pass the South Carolina transgender sports bill into law. Earlier this month, he was quoted saying, “I think the girls ought to play girls and the boys ought to play boys. That’s the way we’ve always done it.” Additionally, when he was then asked to clarify what he meant when he said “biological boys”, he responded, “Are there any other kind?” His comments allege that he, like many other opposers of transgender rights, believes – that there are only two biological sexes, leading to the need for these bans.
A lawyer for the conservative Christian legal advocacy group, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), lauded the governor’s decision to sign the South Carolina transgender sports ban into law. “We welcome South Carolina to the growing number of states that have acted to preserve fair competition for all females, whether in grade school or college. When the law ignores biological differences, it’s women and girls who bear the brunt of the harm,” said attorney Christiana Kiefer. Other supporters hailed the decision, as they feel the South Carolina transgender ban will protect women’s rights. Many feel that if transgender females are allowed to participate in sports, they present an unfair advantage over natural-born females. Men typically have about 10 to 15 times more testosterone within their bodies. This can lead to larger muscles, denser bones, and higher percentages of lean body mass.
Furthermore, critics of transgender sports participation feel that these individuals can take more scholarship opportunities away from females, because of their higher chance of performing better. Many point to the case of Lia Thomas. Thomas, a cisgender swimmer for the University of Pennsylvania became the first openly transgender athlete to win an NCAA Division 1 championship in a sport after she won the women’s 500-yard freestyle event this year. The South Carolina transgender bill looks to make sure cases like this one never happen within the southern state.
On the other side of the argument, many transgender advocates feel that the South Carolina transgender bill could be detrimental to some students. To this, they say that these types of laws single out children, putting a target on their backs. Similarly, they often point to the fact that Republicans are attempting to make a problem out of something that doesn’t exist. In South Carolina, the state has only reported six cases of transgender girls looking to participate in school ports over the last five years. Ivy Hill, a southern coalition group advocating for LGBTQ equality released a statement saying, “Transgender youth are not a threat to fairness in sports, and this law now needlessly stigmatizes young people who are simply trying to navigate their adolescence, make friends, and build skills like teamwork and leadership, winning and losing,”
As much of the nation continues to debate transgender sports participation, the newly passed South Carolina transgender sports ban joins states like Oklahoma, Arizona, and Tennessee to all pass similar laws in the last few months. Georgia has also joined the initiative, but instead of banning the practice through state law, the school associations passed the measure. But just as more and more states pass similar laws, the issue keeps popping up in courts, where oftentimes, the law has been blocked.