Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves went on a Twitter rant last week, attacking President Joe Biden’s executive order aimed at combating anti-LGBTQ discrimination.
Taking his cues from other prominent conservatives, Reeves focused not on the overall order, which is intended to ensure that LGBTQ people are not discriminated against in various aspects of life, from housing to employment to their ability to qualify for grants, and instead, focused on a provision that seeks to allow transgender athletes to compete in athletics.
The provision does not explicitly mandate that states allow trans athletes to compete based on their gender identity, but implies that they should, by declaring that trans athletes should not have to worry about “denied access to the restroom, the locker room or school sports.”
But Reeves portrayed the order as an affront to women’s participation in sports, based on the assumption that transgender females will take awards or opportunities away from cisgender females.
“If there’s one thing that we are passionate about in the Reeves family, it’s my daughters’ sports,” Reeves tweeted. “I know that the lessons learned through team sports have led to so many successful lives and careers for women and have truly helped provide a more equal opportunity for success.”
If there’s one thing that we are passionate about in the Reeves family, it’s my daughters’ sports. I know that the lessons learned through team sports have led to so many successful lives and careers for women and have truly helped provide a more equal opportunity for success.
— Tate Reeves (@tatereeves) February 4, 2021
The governor continued, describing how his daughters have learned how to work hard and win — and lose — graciously.
“It’s true bonding — my happiest and proudest Dad moments,” Reeves added. “It is also why I am so disappointed over President Biden’s actions to force young girls like them to compete with biological males for access to athletics. It will limit opportunity for so many competitors like my daughters. It is bad policy and it is wrong for America.
“I don’t understand why politicians are pushing children into transgenderism in the first place. I certainly don’t understand why the President chose to make it a priority. And my heart breaks for the young women across America who will lose in this radical social experiment.”
I don’t understand why politicians are pushing children into transgenderism in the first place. I certainly don’t understand why the President chose to make it a priority. And my heart breaks for the young women across America who will lose in this radical social experiment.
— Tate Reeves (@tatereeves) February 4, 2021
The American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi pushed back against Reeves’ claims, tweeting: “FACT: Transgender athletes exist, and their participation in athletics doesn’t harm cisgender girls and women. There is simply no data to back up these concerns.”
FACT: Transgender athletes exist, and their participation in athletics doesn’t harm cisgender girls and women.
There is simply no data to back up these concerns.
— ACLU of Mississippi (@ACLU_MS) February 5, 2021
The ACLU continued with its own Twitter thread, expressing opposition to SB 2536, a bill being floated in Mississippi that seeks to prevent athletes from competing in athletic activities in a gender that differs from the one they were assigned at birth.
“FACT: Advocates for women & girls in sports oppose bills like SB 2536. The National Women’s Law Center, Women’s Sports Foundation & Women Leaders in College Sports support trans-inclusive policies and oppose efforts to exclude transgender students from participating in sports,” the ACLU of Mississippi tweeted.
“FACT: Transgender people do not have an inherent competitive advantage in sports by virtue of their transition,” the organization added. “No female transgender athlete has qualified for the Olympics, despite decades-old rules permitting participation.”
Reeves’ talking points echo those of many other opponents of LGBTQ rights. Opponents of bills or ordinances seeking to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity have, in recent years, stopped focusing their outrage around transgender restroom usage, or the alleged “need” for exemptions for small business owners who have personal religious beliefs opposing homosexuality, and have instead become fixated on transgender participation in sports.
“The arguments about protecting women’s sports are the new bathroom bills,” Charlotte Clymer, a writer, LGBTQ advocate and consultant who is transgender, told Metro Weekly. “The reason is because there’s not a lot of public education in the mainstream about trans girls and trans women, and the process that I would say the majority of us go through hormonally in terms of surgeries, whatever kind of medical process we have that removes any sort of physical advantage.
“The bathroom issue failed because I think people deep down realize that people just go into the bathroom to do their business. A women’s restroom is a place where you have stalls. And it’s not like people dilly-dally in there,” adds Clymer. “The thing with women’s sports, though, is that there’s this immediate imagery that comes to mind of athletes colliding into each other or the real physical engagement that happens in sports, especially in contact sports. And so it’s much easier for the public to be misled into believing that there’s this very immediate threat to the safety of girls and women in that kind of venue or atmosphere with sports.”
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!