First Anti-Trans Bill of 2021 Heads to Mississippi Governor’s Desk
Bill is the first specifically anti-transgender piece of legislation to pass a legislature this session, and the second anti-LGBTQ piece of legislation to do so
Today, Mississippi passed SB 2536, an anti-transgender sports bill. This bill marks the first piece of specifically anti-transgender legislation this year to be sent to a governor’s desk and comes on the same day the first piece of anti-LGBTQ legislation, SB 124 — a broad sweeping religious refusal bill — passed the second chamber in South Dakota. The legislative fight to pass discriminatory anti-transgender legislation has been fast and furious, led by national groups aiming to stymie LGBTQ progress made on the national level and in many states. There are so far 131 anti-LGBTQ bills under consideration in state legislatures across the country. Of those, 71 directly target transgender people and about half of those would, like SB 2536, ban transgender girls and women from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity. Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David issued the following statement in response to the passage of SB 2536 in Mississippi:
“As thousands die each day of COVID-19 and millions of Americans are out of work, some state legislatures have chosen to attack, demean and dehumanize their constituents rather than focus on delivering relief and assistance. These dangerous bills are designed to make the lives of transgender kids more difficult while they try to navigate their adolescence. Anti-transgender legislation being heard and voted on across the country are legislating against problems that simply do not exist – as even their proponents admit. This is just the latest iteration of their losing fight against equality and a shameful attempt to throw a wrench in the progress we’re making with a pro-equality President and Congress.
“Today, in sending SB 2536 to Governor Reeves, Mississippi became the first state to take the plunge by passing legislation specifically attacking transgender children. Mississippi is so determined to be on the wrong side of history that it is defying the evidence in favor of discrimination. There is simply no justification for banning transgender girls and women from participating in athletics other than discrimination. Like all girls, transgender girls just want to play and be part of a team with their friends. History will not look kindly on this moment in Mississippi.”
These bills are not addressing any real problem, and they’re not being requested by constituents. Rather, this effort is being driven by national far-right organizations attempting to score political points by sowing fear and hate. What they don’t understand is opposing equality is highly unpopular — even among Trump voters — and states that pass legislation that attacks our community will face severe economic, legal, and reputational harm. In many cases, these legislative pushes are being prioritized above COVID-19 response and relief. This push comes as equality measures gain not only popular support but legislative momentum on the federal level, with the Biden Administration championing equality in early Executive Actions and Congress considering the Equality Act within the first 100 days of the new Administration.
A fight driven by national anti-LGBTQ groups, not local legislators or public concern
These bills come from the same forces that drove previous anti-equality fights by pushing copycat bills across state houses — hateful anti-LGBTQ organizations like the Heritage Foundation, Alliance Defending Freedom (designated by Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group), and Eagle Forum among others.
- For example, Montana’s HB 112, the first anti-transgender sports bill to be passed through a legislative chamber in any state, was worked on by the Alliance Defending Freedom.
Trans equality is popular: Anti-transgender legislation is a low priority, even among Trump voters
In a 10-swing-state poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group last fall:
- At least 60% of Trump voters across each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should be able to live freely and openly.
- At least 87% of respondents across each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should have equal access to medical care, with many states breaking 90% support
- When respondents were asked about how they prioritized the importance of banning transgender people from participating in sports as compared to other policy issues, the issue came in dead last, with between 1% and 3% prioritizing the issue.
States that pass anti-transgender legislation suffer economic, legal, reputational harm
Analyses conducted in the aftermath of previous divisive anti-transgender bills across the country, like the bathroom bills introduced in Texas and North Carolina and an anti-transgender sports ban in Idaho, show that there would be or has been devastating fallout.
- Idaho is the only state to have passed an anti-trans sports ban to date, and that law was swiftly suspended by a federal district court. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) came out against the Idaho bill and others like it and subsequently moved planned tournament games out of Idaho.
- The Associated Press projected that the North Carolina bathroom bill could have cost the state $3.76 billion over 10 years.
- During a fight over an anti-transgender bathroom bill in 2017, the Texas Association of Business estimated $8.5 billion in economic losses, risking 185,000 jobs in the process due to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and professional sporting event cancellations, a ban on taxpayer funded travel to those states, cancellation of movie productions, and businesses moving projects out of state.
TOMORROW: HRC To Hold Emergency Press Conference To Discuss Passage Of First Anti-Transgender & Anti-LGBTQ Bills of 2021
Thursday, March 4th, the Human Rights Campaign will be hosting an emergency virtual press conference to discuss the passage of SB 2536, an anti-transgender sports ban bill in Mississippi, marking the first time in 2021 that a specifically anti-transgender bill will be sent to a governor’s desk, and SB 124, a religious refusal bill in South Dakota that marked the first anti-LGBTQ bill sent to a governor’s desk. Today’s press call will include reaction from Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David, expert analysis from State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel, affected voices from the states and perspective from in-state advocates who will detail the bills and offer context for other anti-transgender bills making its way through state legislatures across the country.
PLEASE RSVP BY EMAILING WYATT.RONAN@HRC.ORG
Press call discussing the passage of SB 2536, the first anti-transgender bill of 2021
Alphonso David, President, Human Rights Campaign
Cathryn Oakley, State Legislative Director & Senior Counsel, Human Rights Campaign
Janna Farley, ACLU of South Dakota
Jarvis Dorth, ACLU of Mississippi
Katy Binstead, parent of a transgender young person in Mississippi
Thursday, March 4th, 2021 – 9:45 am ET
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organizations working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.