May 6, 2022 - News

The politics of Georgia's transgender youth sports ban

Illustration of an elephant trunk and a donkey hoof reaching for a peach.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

The Georgia High School Association banned transgender students from playing on teams that match their current gender identities this week.

It begs a question: Why would Georgia Republicans lean right again on another issue in an election year, given Georgia’s battleground state status?

One answer lies in Gov. Brian Kemp’s internal campaign polling on the issue, reviewed by Axios.

  • When asked whether “biological male students who identify as female have an inherent physical advantage over biologically female students and should be banned from competing in girls’ sports,” 73% of a general election electorate responded they agree.

The big picture: A 2021 Axios/Momentive poll found Americans are divided over the issue of transgender athletes competing at the Olympic level.

  • 53% said transgender athletes should only compete based on their gender assigned at birth or should not compete at all.

Yes, but: Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, tells Axios that “misinformation and outright lies” have dominated the public discourse. But he said as people take the time to learn, and understand transgender neighbors and family members, things change.

  • Democratic state Rep. Matthew Wilson tells Axios: “Our governor, a grown man, has looked at polling and decided that attacking children will help him win his primary. You don’t have to understand LGBTQ issues to spot the sacrificial lamb here.”

Trail mix: Per Ryan Anderson with, 131,918 Georgians voted early this week, 216% higher turnout than the 2018 primary at this time.

In money news: Brian Kemp reported this week he has $10.7 million cash on hand. Stacey Abrams has $8 million, but raised $11.7 million between February and April. Kemp raised $2.7 million in April since the legislative session.

  • David Perdue has not yet released his fundraising numbers.

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