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Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Over 50 bills in 28 states have been introduced this year that would exclude transgender youth from playing sports on teams that align with their gender identity.

Driving the news: In the past three weeks alone, Republican governors from three states — Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas — have signed such bills.

The state of play: This legislation largely follows the same pattern. Lawmakers argue their intent is to ensure fairness in women's sports, which they believe will be overrun with dominant trans athletes if left unregulated.

  • Yes, but: Not only is there little if any scientific evidence backing that claim, but several of the states with pending legislation also hope to disallow trans boys from competing in boys sports, indicating it may be less about fairness than outright exclusion.
  • "We're not out there to take people's scholarships and stuff," a 15-year-old trans boy from North Dakota told SI. "No, we just want to compete."

The big picture: Bills targeting trans athletes are part of the larger culture war that has picked up steam since President Biden took office.

  • Arkansas just became the first state to pass a bill prohibiting doctors from performing gender-affirming care to trans youth, and over 20 other states have introduced similar bills.

What they're saying: "On the Democratic side, this is not an issue that really excites the base," Dan Cox, the director of the American Enterprise Institute's Survey Center on American Life, tells Axios' Orion Rummler.

  • "But on the right, I think these issues are really, really salient, so it tends to fire up folks disproportionately on the right than the left."

The impact: Sports participation has been linked to higher self-esteem and better grades among LGBTQ youth, 86% of whom said recent politics have negatively impacted their well-being, per The Trevor Project's 2020 mental health survey.

Go deeper

Aug 3, 2021 - Podcasts

Millions of Americans face eviction

The federal eviction moratorium expired this past weekend, putting an estimated 4 million people — or more — at risk of getting kicked out of their homes.

  • Plus, a rare moment of discord between Democratic leaders and the president.
  • And, openly trans and non-binary athletes make their mark in Tokyo.

Guests: Axios' Danielle Chemtob, Jonathan Swan, and Ina Fried.

Credits: Axios Today is produced in partnership with Pushkin Industries. The team includes Niala Boodhoo, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Dan Bobkoff, Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Sabeena Singhani, and Alex Sugiura. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at podcasts@axios.com. You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.

Go deeper:

Ina Fried, author of Login
Updated Aug 3, 2021 - Sports

Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard: "It gets better"

New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard became the first openly transgender woman to compete in the Olympics. Ina Fried/Axios

Laurel Hubbard, speaking to reporters after becoming the first openly transgender woman to compete in the Olympics, on Tuesday expressed gratitude for the opportunity to compete as an athlete and convince transgender people to work through adversity.

What she's saying: "All I have ever really wanted as an athlete is just to be regarded as an athlete," Hubbard, said in response to a question from Axios. "I suppose the thing I have been so grateful here in Tokyo is just being given those opportunities to just go through life as any other athlete."

Updated 5 hours ago - Technology

From Malcolm X to "Free Britney," new media shapes the justice system

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

True crime documentaries, podcasts and social media campaigns are bringing new attention to real-world legal proceedings — and are often affecting the outcome.

Why it matters: New media platforms can instantly put a national spotlight on cases that have long been forgotten or buried under red tape.