Mississippi close to putting limits on transgender athletes

Rep. Becky Currie, R-Brookhaven, stands behind a clear safety barrier that surrounds the speaker's well as she presents a bill for consideration at the Capitol in Jackson, Miss., Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. Legislators continue to debate the long lists of bills that survived the first big deadline of the session. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Rep. Becky Currie, R-Brookhaven, stands behind a clear safety barrier that surrounds the speaker's well as she presents a bill for consideration at the Capitol in Jackson, Miss., Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. Legislators continue to debate the long lists of bills that survived the first big deadline of the session. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis) (Copyright 2021. The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi House voted Wednesday to ban transgender athletes from competing on girls' or women's sports teams in the state's schools and universities. The bill heads to Republican Gov. Tate Reeves in the next several days, and he is expected to sign it into law.

Mississippi is one of more than 20 states with lawmakers proposing restrictions on athletics or gender-confirming health care for transgender minors this year. Democratic President Joe Biden signed an executive order Jan. 20 — the day he took office — that bans discrimination based on gender identity in school sports and elsewhere.

“Girls deserve to compete on a level playing field,” Republican Rep. Becky Currie read from a text as she explained the bill to the Mississippi House. “Allowing males to compete in girls' sports destroys fair competition and women's athletic opportunities."

Currie said she would not take any questions from colleagues because she believed everyone had already decided how to vote.

“I'm not interested in getting into an argument with you on who's boys and who's girls and who thinks they're what,” Currie said.

The House voted 81-28 to pass Senate Bill 2536. Six representatives did not vote, and seven voted “present," which counts neither for nor against the bill.

The Republican-controlled state Senate passed the bill 34-9 on Feb. 11, with five senators not voting and four voting “present."

During the Senate debate, nobody asked whether any transgender athletes are competing in Mississippi. The bill's sponsor, Republican Sen. Angela Hill of Picayune, did not volunteer such information but said “numerous coaches” had called her wanting a ban.