May 17, 2022 - Politics & Policy

South Carolina governor signs transgender sports ban

Photo of Henry McMaster speaking from a podium while waving his right hand in the air
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster. Photo: Sean Rayford via Getty Images

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) this week signed into law a bill that bans transgender athletes from playing on public school and college sports teams that align with their gender identity.

Why it matters: South Carolina is the latest state to enact a law targeting transgender people, following similar legislation enacted in other GOP-led states, including Georgia, Tennessee and Texas.

Details: The law — titled the "Save Women's Sports Act" — requires students to participate in sports based on the "biological sex" listed on birth certificates "filed at or near the time" of birth.

  • Republican lawmakers argue that the measure ensures fairness in sports, though multiple states that have passed such bans have been unable to provide evidence in their own state or region showing trans athletes have unfair advantages.
  • Meanwhile, LGBTQ+ advocates and health experts warn that the slew of bans could worsen mental health crises among trans youth.

What they're saying: "Like every one of the sports bans we’ve seen passed across the country over the last three years, this is a solution in search of a problem, and it will only work to increase the isolation and stigmatization of an already-marginalized group of students," Sam Ames, director for advocacy and government affairs at the LGBTQ+ youth suicide prevention organization The Trevor Project, said in a statement.

  • "Our 2022 national survey finds that nearly 1 in 5 trans and nonbinary youth attempted suicide in the past year — and this elevated risk is not due to their gender identity, but rather because of how they are mistreated."
  • "We implore lawmakers to stop these unfair and unnecessary policies targeting a small group of marginalized youth and focus their energy on the well-being of all youth," Ames added.
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