500 athletes unite to defend trans athletes’ right to play sport against wave of transphobic bills

trans athletes

More than 500 athletes came together to defend trans people and take action on the wave of anti-trans bills making their way through US state legislatures. 

On Thursday (March 11), Mississippi governor Tate Reeves signed a bill to ban transgender athletes from competing in sports teams that match their gender, drawing global condemnation.

It was the first such ban to be signed into law in 2021, however similar pieces of legislation are currently being tabled in various states.

On Wednesday (March 10), college athletes from across the US came together to write to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), urging it oppose such efforts.

NCAA officials were urged to not host championships in states that pass bills banning transgender athletes from competing or require athletes to undergo invasive medical testing.

Addressing Mark Emmet, the president of the NCAA, the letter published in Athlete Ally read: “We, the undersigned NCAA student-athletes, are extremely frustrated and disappointed by the lack of action taken by the NCAA to recognise the dangers of hosting events in states that create a hostile environment for student-athletes.”

It pointed to a ban signed into law in Idaho in 2020 that is currently subject to an injunction.

“HB500 in Idaho, even with the current injunction, is still is an incredibly harmful bill that sets a dangerous precedent of subjecting all women athletes to potential invasive gender verification tests while also effectively banning transgender women athletes from competition.”

The athletes told officials: “You have been silent in the face of hateful legislation in states that are slated to host championships, even though those states are close to passing anti-transgender legislation.”

The letter added: “The NCAA must speak out against bills that directly affect their student-athlete population if they want to uphold their self-professed ideals of keeping college sports safe and promoting the excellence of physical and mental well being for student-athletes”. 

In a statement to Sports Illustrated, NCAA leaders said that the association “continues to closely monitor state bills that impact transgender student-athlete participation”.

“The NCAA believes diversity and inclusion improve the learning environment and it encourages its member colleges and universities to support the well-being of all student-athletes,” it adds

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, besides Mississipi and South Carolina, another 23 states are considering passing anti-trans legislation.