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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

Streaming reaches new milestone

llustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Nielsen on Thursday introduced a new metric for measuring how many people watch streaming video and for how long.

Why it matters: Streaming is exploding, but the industry has long lacked a uniform way to measure consumption, and that has held it back from being able to integrate advertising.

Ina Fried, author of Login
20 mins ago - Technology

The feds' dangerous data-grab game

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Recent revelations about Trump-era data grabs by federal authorities have put the U.S. in a tricky spot as it competes with China to lead the digital age.

The assumption in the West is that U.S. tech companies only provide the government with data when it follows the rules and goes after specific suspects — while, in China, tech companies are forced to share everything with the government.

50 mins ago - Health

The Obamacare wars end in a whimper

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Existential threats to the Affordable Care Act just aren’t what they used to be.

The big picture: The anti-Obamacare fire on the right may not be fully extinguished — it still throws off some smoke and a few sparks every once in a while — but it has petered out into irrelevance, dismissed as a distraction even by some of the same conservatives who helped to stoke it in the first place.