Republican Nikki Haley renews attacks against trans women in sport

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speaks to supporters

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley has reiterated her opposition to transgender women taking part in sports, claiming that trans people are “erasing” women. 

Haley, who has previously criticised the idea of trans women joining women’s sports teams, said in an interview that it is an issue that she’ll “always fight against”. 

The former governor of South Carolina said in an ABC Live broadcast on Monday (11 December) that “they can find a place for trans kids to play sports” but that transgender girls should not be playing on girls’ teams, something that several states have already banned. 

Haley, who is basing much of her campaign on opposing trans rights, said: “We have to remember that strong girls become strong women. Strong women become strong leaders. That doesn’t happen by putting biological boys in women’s sports. 

“You’ve got women who have worked so hard all their life to really get to the point in high school and college where they want to [be], and to have a biological man, who’s physiologically different, athletically, go and take that away… no, we’re not gonna erase the women like that. You can’t do that.

“It’s the wrong thing to do and I’ll always fight against that.”

You may like to watch

Haley has shown opposition to the LGBTQ+ community throughout her presidential campaign, attacking influencer Dylan Mulvaney, stating that Florida’s Don’t Say Gay law “doesn’t go far enough”, and even blaming teen suicide rates on transgender girls using girls’ changing rooms.

In a year in which several elite sports governing bodies have limited or banned trans women from taking part, studies have shown that not only is inclusion in sport positive for LGBTQ+ youth, but also that more and more LGBTQ+ young people are now avoiding sport altogether.

Last month, a group of UN experts called on countries, athletes and sporting bodies to respect the right of trans, non-binary and intersex people to take part in sport.

“We are convinced that sports have the power to change perceptions, prejudices and behaviours. It must not be used to reinforce them,” the experts’ statement read. 

“We therefore urge sporting bodies at the elite level to consider the implications of their decisions not only for LGBT and intersex athletes but, equally importantly, the impact that those decisions will have on LGBT and intersex persons participating in sports at all levels, as well as general social perceptions.”

Wales rugby legend and HIV activist Gareth Thomas has also defended trans inclusion, saying sport is “more than just winning or losing”.

He went on to say: “For me, and for so many other people, sport is a reason to represent something when you feel like you have nothing to represent at all. Sport is a reason to get out of the house, sport is a reason to be active, sport is a reason to have friends.” 

Haley trails both frontrunner Donald Trump and Florida governor Ron DeSantis in the race to win the Republican nomination for the presidency, although some people have mentioned her as a possible running mate for the eventual winner.