COLUMBIA, SC — The governor of South Carolina has quietly signed into law a bill that would ban transgender students from playing female or female sports in public schools and colleges, as the state joins a dozen others who have passed similar laws in the past two years.
The law project was one of 43 acts Governor Henry McMaster signed into law on Monday without fanfare or ceremony. McMaster hasn’t posted on social media like he has to sign bills giving extra leave to new parents or allowing early voting.
But just before the state Senate passed the proposal earlier this month, McMaster said, “I think girls should play girls and boys should play boys. That’s how we’ve always process.”
When asked if he was talking about biological boys, the governor replied “are there any others?”
The law requires transgender students to compete with the gender listed on their birth certificates.
Proponents of a ban warn that in a rapidly changing society, transgender girls would have an unfair biological advantage for being born of stronger men. They suggest winning girls’ podiums and MVP awards could be taken over by transgender athletes at the expense of the sport in places like South Carolina, where it’s an integral part of school life.
Opponents of the bill said it was a cruel idea, aimed at students who aren’t elite athletes but are simply looking for a way to be a regular student, hang out with friends and get away from it all. learning life lessons through competition.
“Young trans people are not a threat to fairness in sport, and this law now unnecessarily stigmatizes young people who are simply trying to navigate their teenage years, make friends and learn skills like job team and leadership, winning and losing,” said Ivy Hill, an executive. of a coalition of more than 30 groups committed to LGBTQ equality.
Several states have enacted sports bans for transgender students
South Carolina is the latest place to join a growing group of mostly conservative states requiring transgender students to compete with the gender listed on their birth certificates. The governors of Oklahoma and Arizona signed their laws in late March, and the governor of Tennessee signed a bill earlier this month.
The idea began to emerge in legislatures about two years ago. Idaho passed the first such law in 2020. Its law and a similar law in West Virginia have both been blocked by the courts.
The lawyer for the conservative Christian legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom said the girls deserved to compete on equal terms.
“We welcome South Carolina among the growing number of states that have acted to preserve fair competition for all women, whether in elementary school or in college. When the law ignores biological differences, this are the women and girls who suffer the most,” alliance attorney Christiana Kiefer said in a statement.
In South Carolina, the High School League currently handles issues of whether a student should compete on boys’ or girls’ teams on a case-by-case basis and has handled fewer than half a dozen cases in five years.
Research on children who identify as transgender is just beginning. A study published online earlier this month in Pediatrics found that children who begin to identify as transgender at a young age tend to retain that identity for at least several years. But the study focused primarily on children from high-income white families who supported their transitions.
South Carolina lawmakers have yet to adopt proposals adopted in other conservative states like Texas, where Governor Gregg Abbott has ordered state agencies to consider placing transgender children in foster care or to take action banning gender-affirming health treatments for transgender youth.