Anti-Trans Laws

Louisiana Becomes The 18th State To Ban Trans Kids From Sports

In the latest anti-trans legislation passed, Louisiana has mandated that transgender students play only on teams that align with their sex assigned at birth.

A soccer goalie defends against two opposing players who approach with the ball.

This week, Louisiana became the 18th U.S. state to enact a trans sports ban after its Democratic governor declined to take action on a bill that Republican-led legislators in the state had passed through the House and Senate last month.

The bill bans transgender girls and women from playing on female sports teams in all public and some private elementary schools, secondary schools, and colleges in the state. There is no record of any trans girl or woman competing in school sports in the state.

Although the bill is the “Women’s Fairness in Sports Act,” the bill says that students must play as the “biological sex” listed on their birth certificate, which also bans transgender boys and men from playing on male sports teams.

This isn’t the first time legislators in Louisiana have tried to ban trans kids from sports. Last year, they tried to pass a similar ban, but Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards vetoed the bill. This year, however, Edwards neither vetoed nor directly approved the ban, allowing it to pass. Gov. Edwards needed to veto the bill by Monday to have a say in the matter.

The governor does still oppose the ban, but he was confident that if he had vetoed the bill, his veto would have been overridden, Edwards said at a news conference on Monday.

"Whether it's intended or not, the effect is to tell — send a strong message to at least some of these young people that they shouldn't be who they think they are, who they believe they are, who they know that they are," Edwards said. "And I find that very distressing. I do believe that we can be better than that."

“I think it’s unfortunate, but it’s where we are,” he continued. “And I hope we can all get to a point soon where we realize that these young people are doing the very best that they can to survive. I just think we can be better than that bill.”

Louisiana's trans sports ban is part of a larger anti-transgender push led by Republican lawmakers across the U.S. These bills target, for example, trans youth’s access to gender-affirming care. Conservatives are even pushing to end transgender adults’ access to gender-affirming care, among other bans directed at youth, such as Don’t Say Gay or Trans bills.

Louisiana’s trans sports ban is the 25th anti-trans bill passed this year, according to The Trevor Project.

Trans advocates and experts argue that when it comes to youth sports, sportsmanship, discipline, teamwork, and fun are more important than winning, so there is no reason for such bans to exist. There’s also no scientific consensus on whether transgender girls and women who have undergone a testosterone-fueled puberty have an athletic advantage over their cis counterparts. And some transgender girls and women who would ostensibly be participating in these sports who have taken puberty blockers have never gone through testosterone-dominated puberty.

Legislation that targets trans kids — and stops them from being able to participate in their full lives — can stigmatize young kids, make them feel alone, and harm their mental health. In March of 2021, the American Academy of Pediatrics said of the sports bans that were just beginning to take hold: “The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends... that playing on sports teams helps youth develop self-esteem, correlates positively with overall mental health, and appears to have a protective effect against suicide.”

The stakes for acceptance are high. A recent Trevor Project report found nearly 20 percent of trans and nonbinary youth attempted suicide last year, and are at a higher risk of suicide due to their stigmatization by sweeping anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. The biggest balm against the mental health crisis affecting our trans kids is acceptance and support from those around them, particularly their caregivers.

“This Pride, we need our cisgender and straight allies, especially those in government, sports, healthcare, and the business world, to speak out and take action for the transgender and nonbinary youth under attack,” said Carrie Davis, Chief Community Officer for The Trevor Project.

“We can promote fairness in sports without sidelining all transgender students in the process, but we also know these attacks are not about fairness in sports — they’re about our very existence...These bills are part of a larger effort to erase transgender and nonbinary youth by making it virtually impossible to grow up trans.”