Wyoming Bans Males from Participating in Female Sports

Wyoming has become the 19th state to pass a ban on transgender athletes playing in girls’ or women’s sports teams, after Republican Governor Mark Gordon opted not to veto the legislation, The Hill reports.

In a decision letter, Gov. Gordon expressed his support for the overall goal of fairness in competitive female sports, but stated that the ban “is overly draconian, is discriminatory without attention to individual circumstances or mitigating factors, and pays little attention to fundamental principles of equality.”

The law, which will take effect on July 1, prohibits “students of the male sex from competing on a team designated for students of the female sex.”

“A student of the male sex shall not compete, and a public school shall not allow a student of the male sex to compete, in an athletic activity or team designated for students of the female sex,” the bill goes on to say.

“A government entity or licensing or accrediting organization shall not entertain a complaint, open an investigation or take any other adverse action against a school described in subsection (a) of this section for maintaining separate school athletic activities and teams for students of the female sex.”

It is one measure among dozens of Republican proposals that push back against transgender ideology in statehouses across the U.S., including measures to ban transgender operations and so-called “gender-affirming” pharmaceuticals for minors, restrict drag shows, and prevent members of one biological sex from using restrooms meant for the opposite biological sex and locker rooms.

Antonio Serrano, advocacy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Wyoming, said the development was “shameful” because it codifies discrimination.

The bill applies to public school students in grades 7-12 who participate in interscholastic sports, of which there are only four known transgender students currently competing.

Governor Gordon said in his decision letter that “this seems to call for individualized consideration, where families, students, teams, and others can thoughtfully address specific circumstances, rather than such a punitive, ostracizing broad-brush approach,” while still allowing the bill to become law “without the benefit of my signature.”

Idaho was the first state to enact a transgender sports ban in 2020, and other states to follow suit include Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.

State Senator Wendy Schuler (R-Evanston), who sponsored the bill, argued her legislation is not meant to target transgender youth but to maintain what she says should be an equal playing field for female athletes, according to a local Wyoming news outlet.

“I’m not opposed to students needing to do what they need to do, I’m just opposed to males competing against biological females,” Sen. Schuler said.

She also argued that allowing transgender athletes to compete on girls’ teams undoes the progress women have made since the passing of Title IX in 1972. That federal civil rights law requires equal funding and opportunities for women’s sports and prohibits sex-based discrimination.

Schuler, herself a former athlete, recounted what it was like before Title IX was passed.

“I recall all the female athletes who had to sit on the sidelines and watch. I don’t want to see a situation where girls are having to sit on the sidelines and not have a chance to compete because a transgender athlete took their spot,” she said, before expressing empathy for the transgender athletes.

“I feel for them, the trans athletes. I’m not at all transphobic. They get the opportunity they deserve on the playing field of their biological sex.”