Human Rights Campaign Slams Gov. Gordon’s Decision to Allow Anti-Transgender Sports Ban To Become Law

by HRC Staff

Cheyenne, Wyoming – Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization — is condemning Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon’s decision to allow SF133, legislation that bans transgender students from playing sports consistent with their gender identity, to become law. In a statement, Gordon called said legislation is “overly draconian, is discriminatory without attention to individual circumstances or mitigating factors, and pays little attention to the fundamental principles of equality.”

SF133 is a direct attack on transgender youth that are trying their best to just be kids, and fit in with and play alongside their peers. Transgender kids, like all kids, have said themselves that they play sports for the same reasons all kids do: to be healthy, to be part of a team, to learn discipline, and above all, to have fun with their friends. Forbidding transgender youth from playing sports consistent with their gender identity also isolates them from an activity that many students find to be a bonding experience. That isolation can have serious consequences on the health of transgender kids. A recent study by the Trevor Project found that 42% of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth. 94% of LGBTQ+ youth also reported that recent politics negatively impacted their mental health.

Nor does this legislation have any positive impact on women’s sports and the many real issues that women’s sports do face, including underfunding, harassment and abuse, unequal pay, and financial barriers to entry for elite programs. Advocates for equity in women’s sports, such as the National Women’s Law Center, the Women’s Sports Foundation, Women Leaders in College Sports, as well as figures like Megan Rapinoe, Billie Jean King, and Cheryl Reeve, support transgender students being able to play, too.

“Gov. Gordon had the opportunity to do the right thing for Wyoming kids who just want to play sports and have fun with their friends. Allowing this discriminatory legislation to become law without his signature does not prevent the harm the bill will do to transgender youth; it will not prevent the cost to taxpayers for defending an unconstitutional and illegal piece of legislation in court; and it will not make any of the much needed investments that would truly help support women’s sports in Wyoming. Transgender kids deserve to grow up knowing that they are loved and respected for who they are. The Governor’s refusal to veto this bill will make their lives harder today. Wyoming families deserve better.”

Cathryn Oakley, HRC State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel

A few months into 2023, HRC is already tracking more than 410 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have been introduced in statehouses across the country. 175 of those would specifically restrict the rights of transgender people, the highest number of bills targeting transgender people in a single year to date.

So far this year, HRC is tracking:

  • More than 100 bills that would prevent trans youth from being able to access age-appropriate, medically-necessary, best-practice health care; five have already become law, in Mississippi, Tennessee, South Dakota, Utah, and Arkansas.

  • More bathroom ban bills filed than in any previous year (more than 25),

  • And 65+ anti-LGBTQ+ bills which have passed at least one chamber, 25 of which are specifically anti-trans.

Businesses, Advocacy Groups, and Athletes Oppose Anti-Trans Legislation

More than 150 major U.S. corporations have stood up and spoken out to oppose anti-transgender legislation being proposed in states across the country. Companies like Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, AT&T, AirBnB, Dell, Dow, Google, IBM, Lyft, Marriott, Microsoft, Nike, and Paypal have objected to these bills. Four of the largest U.S. food companies also condemned “dangerous, discriminatory legislation that serves as an attack on LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly transgender and nonbinary people,” and the Walton Family Foundation issued a statement expressing “alarm” at the trend of anti-transgender legislation that recently became law in Arkansas.

Many are rightly protective of the legacy of women’s sports in this country, and a robust Title IX is central to that legacy. Importantly, advocates for women and girls in sports – such as the National Women’s Law Center, the Women’s Sports Foundation, Women Leaders in College Sports, and others – support trans-inclusive policies and oppose efforts to exclude transgender students from participating in sports. So do prominent female athletes including Billie Jean King, Megan Rapinoe, and Cheryl Reeve. That’s because while there are real issues facing women’s sports, including a lack of resources devoted to supporting them, transgender participation in athletics is not one of them.

The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1,000 child welfare organizations released an open letter calling for lawmakers in states across the country to oppose dozens of bills that target LGBTQ+ people, and transgender children in particular.

Nearly 550 college athletes have stood up to anti-transgender legislation by demanding the NCAA pull championships from states that have enacted anti-trans sports laws.

Trans Equality Is Popular Across All Demographics

The reality is that however sensational and polarizing this issue may seem, public opinion polling across the country show strong support for trans-inclusive and pro-equality policies:

Recent PRRI data shows a large majority of Americans (82%) favor laws that protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and housing, and majorities of Republicans (67%), independents (85%), and Democrats (92%) favor nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ Americans.

A PBS/NPR/Marist poll states that 67% of Americans, including 66% of Republicans, oppose the anti-transgender sports ban legislation proliferating across 30 states.

In a 10-swing-state poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group in 2020 showed:

  • At least 60% of Trump voters across each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should be able to live freely and openly.

  • At least 87% of respondents across each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should have equal access to medical care, with many states breaking 90% support

  • When respondents were asked about how they prioritized the importance of banning transgender people from participating in sports as compared to other policy issues, the issue came in dead last, with between 1% and 3% prioritizing the issue.

Another poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group revealed that, with respect to transgender youth participation in sports, the public’s strong inclination is on the side of fairness and equality for transgender student athletes. 73% of voters agree that “sports are important in young people’s lives. Young transgender people should be allowed opportunities to participate in a way that is safe and comfortable for them.”

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