South Carolina Becomes 16th State to Ban Trans Kids From Sports

The ban covers women's and girl's sports only in all public schools and colleges in the state.

a kid kicks a soccer ball on a youth sports team
Alistair Berg / Getty Images

South Carolina just became the latest in a long line of states to ban transgender students from participating in sports teams that align with their gender identity — participation will be based on assigned sex at birth. Governor Henry McMaster quietly signed the bill, called the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” on Monday with no public announcements.

There was little question that McMaster, a hardline Republican, would pass the law. Earlier this year, he said, “I think the girls ought to play girls and the boys ought to play boys. That’s the way we’ve always done it.” When a reporter asked him to clarify if he was referring to biological sexes, McMaster responded, “Are there any other kind?”

The ban covers women’s and girls’ sports only, in all public schools and colleges in the state. Private schools are required to comply if teams compete against public school teams. The passage makes South Carolina the 16th state to ban transgender students from playing on sports teams based on gender identity instead of assigned sex at birth and comes amid a storm of anti-trans legislation in the U.S.

Since the beginning of 2022, a mid-term election year, over 300 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced to state legislatures, many of which specifically target transgender youth. The onslaught of discriminatory legislation comes when the mental health crisis among transgender youth is only worsening. According to the advocacy group, The Trevor Project, 20% of transgender youth attempted suicide in the past year, and 45% struggled with suicidal ideation. Eighty-three percent of transgender youth say that they are concerned or stressed that they would not be allowed to play sports.

The non-profit group the Trans Formations Projects developed a tool that tracks all anti-LGBTQ legislation as the bills make their way through the legislative process. The tracker also compiles contact information for state lawmakers to make it simpler for people to reach out to their State Representatives and Senators. “It’s a horrifying attack on human rights,” Alex Petrovnia, the founder and president of the Trans Formations Project, explained to Fatherly. “It’s really disappointing to see that there is very little media attention being drawn to it. And there’s very little public awareness of this issue … which is a lot of why we put together this database. Because a lot of people, once they heard about it, wanted to help. They just didn’t know how.”

The most important thing trans advocates and opponents of discriminatory legislation can do is reach out to state lawmakers and let them know that you do not support anti-trans or, more broadly, anti-LGBTQ legislation in your state.