Feb 10, 2021 - Sports

Tennessee governor says transgender girls shouldn't play on school sports teams

Photo of Bill Lee speaking and gesturing with hands
Photo: Houston Cofield/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Tennessee's Republican Gov. Bill Lee said Monday that transgender girls should be banned from playing on middle and high school sports teams, claiming trans athletes will "destroy women's sports," AP reports.

Why it matters: His comments come as the Tennessee GOP attempts to pass legislation requiring student-athletes to provide "original" birth certificates in order to participate in school sports. They argue that trans girls have an edge in athletics because they were assigned male at birth, but research has shown there is no automatic advantage.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Jeff Tracy: There’s very little evidence to suggest that trans women hold a competitive advantage over their cisgender counterparts, but there are significant findings regarding the benefits — including higher self-esteem and fewer depressive symptoms — that athletic participation has for trans youth.

  • Decreased muscle mass, decreased strength and body-fat redistribution are three standard effects for trans women who receive estrogen through hormone replacement therapy, per UC San Francisco's Center of Excellence for Transgender Health.
  • It also varies on a case-by-case basis.

What he's saying: "It will ruin the opportunity for girls to earn scholarships," Lee said. "It will put a glass ceiling back over women that hasn’t been there in some time. I think it’s bad for women and for women’s sports."

The big picture: The Supreme Court has ruled that LGBTQ people are protected under the Civil Rights Act, and in an executive order, President Biden prohibited discrimination based on gender identity in school sports.

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