Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to support our work—that time is now.

Our mission is simple: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

But without the support of our readers, this model does not work and we simply won’t survive. It’s that simple.
We must meet our Mid-Year Campaign goal but we need you now.

Please, support independent journalism today.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Mack Beggs wrestled against Mya Engert during the quarter finals of the Texas Wrestling State Tournament on February 24, 2017 at Berry Center in Cypress. Beggs was assigned female at birth, so he was only allowed to compete in the league for girls. (Photo: Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Mack Beggs wrestled against Mya Engert during the quarter finals of the Texas Wrestling State Tournament on February 24, 2017 at Berry Center in Cypress. Beggs was assigned female at birth, so he was only allowed to compete in the league for girls. (Photo: Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

'Unjust and Discriminatory': Mississippi Bans Trans Students From Sports Teams Matching Their Identity

LGBTQ+ rights advocates are warning about the law's impact on trans children and sounding the alarm about similar bills in other states.

Jessica Corbett

Sparking a swift flood of condemnation, Mississippi's Republican governor on Thursday signed into a law a bill requiring schools statewide to bar transgender student athletes from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity—the first of what critics warn could soon be a nationwide wave of legislation attacking LGBTQ+ rights.

Gov. Tate Reeves claimed last week that S.B. 2536, or "the Mississippi Fairness Act," would "protect young girls from being forced to compete with biological males for athletic opportunities." He also said that "the push for kids to adopt transgenderism is just wrong" and slammed a recent executive order from President Joe Biden which said that "children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports."

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, responded by first addressing those most affected by the Mississippi law.

"To the transgender students in Mississippi who have been attacked by this legislation, you belong, we see you, and we will do everything we can to support you," Keisling said. "Reeves' actions today are unjust and discriminatory. He has targeted transgender kids and added to their burden, opening them up to more harassment, abuse, and violence.

"Transgender students should be allowed to live their lives without fear and out of the shadows," Keisling added. "Reeves has done Mississippi students real harm."

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Alphonso David said that "Reeves' eagerness to become the face of the latest anti-transgender push is appalling, as he chooses fear and division over facts and science."

"This law is a solution in search of a problem, and legislators in Mississippi have not provided any examples of Mississippi transgender athletes gaming the system for a competitive advantage because none exist," David continued, also challenging the governor's claim that the law is necessary pushback against the Biden order by noting that 35 anti-transgender sports bills were introduced under his predecessor.

"Bullying transgender kids is no way to govern the state out of the crises they face," David added. "Transgender kids deserve better and so does Mississippi."

HRC Mississippi state director Rob Hill accused Reeves of "enthusiastically signing this bill to sow fear and division," and warned of its impact.

"Every kid deserves the opportunity to learn the values of participation, team work, and work ethic that come with youth sports," said Hill. "By making this harmful bill the law in Mississippi, Gov. Reeves is openly welcoming discrimination and putting the lives of transgender kids in danger."

According to GLSEN, an educational organization that works to end discrimination and harassment of LGBTQ+ people:

For all students, having the opportunity to participate in sports results in positive outcomes, including physical development, social skills, and psychological well-being. The psychological benefits of sports specifically include improved emotional regulation, decreased hopelessness and suicidality, fewer depressive symptoms, and higher self-esteem. Research has also found that sports participation is related to greater feelings of school belonging and pro-school behaviors.

GLSEN notes that transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming youth often face barriers to participating in sports, referencing a 2017 survey in which only 11.5% of trans/nonbinary/GNC students said that their school had policies to support them—and of those students, only 42.4% said there were guidelines for inclusive athletics.

Although Mississippi is currently the only state to impose such a ban—a similar measure in Idaho was blocked by a federal court last year—Reeves' signature came after South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, also a Republican, tweeted Monday that she was "excited" to sign a bill barring transgender girls and women from participating in female sports leagues "very soon."

"The attacks against transgender youth in South Dakota and Mississippi and other states are abhorrent," said Sasha Buchert, senior attorney and co-director of Lambda Legal's Transgender Rights Project.

These bills are not only "harmful and dangerous" as well as "gratuitous distractions from the multiple, serious crises in these states," Buchert explained, "they are also the latest in a vicious and unending campaign to strip our communities of their rights and dignity. Having failed to ban us from bathrooms and to deny us equal protection in the workplace, they now have turned to going after transgender children, a new, but sadly unsurprising, low."

"To trans youth in South Dakota, Mississippi, and all across the country, trust that there is an entire community of people who celebrate you, stand with you, and believe you deserve to feel safe and respected," added Buchert, vowing that Lambda Legal "will keep fighting until every trans youth can fully participate on their team, in their school, and in the world."

The ACLU, which sued over the Idaho law, pointed out in a tweet that the Mississippi measure is just "the first of what could be a national wave of anti-trans legislation."

NBC News reports that state legislatures are considering nearly 150 anti-LGBTQ bills, "including 76 that directly target transgender people and 37 that prohibit transgender girls and women from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity."

Such proposals include a bill recently introduced in Michigan targeting trans high school athletes as well as a measure in Maine that would bar transgender girls and women from participating in elementary, secondary, and post-secondary school sports.

"As Mainers we all want fairness in school sports, but this bill isn't fair, it's harmful to young people," said Gia Drew, program director at EqualityMaine. "Not only would the bill exclude some girls and young women from important developmental opportunities because of who they are, it would subject any girl who wants to challenge that exclusion to a prying and privacy-invading medical exam."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.


'We WILL Fight Back': Outrage, Resolve as Protests Erupt Against SCOTUS Abortion Ruling

Demonstrators took to the streets Friday to defiantly denounce the Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority after it rescinded a constitutional right for the first time in U.S. history.

Brett Wilkins ·

80+ US Prosecutors Vow Not to Be Part of Criminalizing Abortion Care

"Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice," says a joint statement signed by 84 elected attorneys. "Prosecutors should not be part of that."

Kenny Stancil ·

Progressives Rebuke Dem Leadership as Clyburn Dismisses Death of Roe as 'Anticlimactic'

"The gap between the Democratic leadership, and younger progressives on the question of 'How Bad Is It?' is just enormous."

Julia Conley ·

In 10 Key US Senate Races, Here's How Top Candidates Responded to Roe Ruling

While Republicans unanimously welcomed the Supreme Court's rollback of half a century of reproductive rights, one Democrat said "it's just wrong that my granddaughter will have fewer freedoms than my grandmother did."

Brett Wilkins ·

Sanders Says End Filibuster to Combat 'Outrageous' Supreme Court Assault on Abortion Rights

"If Republicans can end the filibuster to install right-wing judges to overturn Roe v. Wade, Democrats can and must end the filibuster, codify Roe v. Wade, and make abortion legal and safe," said the Vermont senator.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo