The Republican governor has signed into law a new measure that establishes penalties for schools that will continue to allow transgender athletes to compete in girls' sports.
On Friday, Republican Gov. Bill Lee of Tennessee quietly signed into law a measure that orders harsh penalties on public schools that will allow transgender athletes to compete in girls' sports. The Republican leader signed the proposal without comment.
According to PBS, Gov. Lee had already signed a measure in 2021 that mandated student athletes to prove that their sex matches that listed on their "original" birth certificates. In the event that their birth certificate is unavailable, the parents must provide another form of evidence "indicating the student's sex at the time of birth."
This year, the Republican-led Tennessee Legislature moved to add penalties to the law that bans transgender athletes in girls' sports. This law is already in effect despite a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality is making its way through court. A trial is expected in March 2023.
This newly signed bill by the Republican governor orders Tennessee's Department of Education to "withhold a portion of state funds from local school districts that fail to determine a student's gender for participation in middle or high school sports," the report said. The measure did not say specifically how much of the funding would be withheld by the state government. The meaasure will go into effect on July 1 and was met with pushback from transgender activists and advocates.
"Telling transgender students that they can't participate as who they really are amounts to excluding them from sports entirely - depriving them of opportunities available to their peers and sending the message that they are not worthy of a full life," ACLU of Tennessee's transgender justice advocate Henry Seaton declared in a statement.
Meanwhile, Tennessee lawmakers are also pushing another bill that would prevent transgender athletes from participating in female sports in the college level. Republican ledersw have also urged school districts to allow teachers to use the pronouns of the transgender students' birth sex and not the pronouns they prefer, exempting teachers from any punishment and protecting schools from any lawsuits. These two proposals are poised to clear th General Assembly.
In 2021, Tennessee enacted the most laws that targeted transgender individuals. Such measures included banning transgender athletes from playing in girls sports in public middle and high schools.
Meanwhile in Topeka, Kansas, Republican Rep. Cheryl Helmer expressed disdain over having to share restrooms with transgender women, the Kansas Reflector reported. The discussion began when Brenan Riffel, a graduate student at the University of Kansas who identifies as transfeminine emailed Rep. Helmer to express her disapproval over the legislator's support of House Bill 2210. The measure criminalizes doctors for performing gender reassignment surgery or hormone replacement on minors.
Rep. Helmer responded that doctors cannot change what is "chemically occurring [sic] in each and every fiber, bone and molecule of every human being," adding, "A doctor can inject meds and dilute but cannot destroy what God has done in the perfection of the HUMAN BEING."
Rep. Helmer added that "I do not appreciate the huge transgender female who is now in our restrooms in the Capitol. It is quite uncomforting."