Louisiana Senate votes overwhelmingly for transgender restrictions in sports

The legislation could run into problems in the House

Trans Pride flags | Ted Eytan via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

The Louisiana Senate voted 29-6 Wednesday to prohibit transgender girls and women from participating in women and girls sports competitions. Both Democrats and Republicans supported the legislation. There was no debate on the bill before the vote took place. 

“Women have been given privileges because we are different — not lesser — but different,” said Sen. Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton, the sponsor of the bill. Mizell is also the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the head of the Louisiana Legislative Women’s Caucus.

Mizell’s legislation is now headed to the Louisiana House, where it may run into problems. The House Education Committee voted to kill a similar proposal earlier this week.  Gov. John Bel Edwards has also said he will veto the legislation if it passes.

Proponents of Mizell’s bill said transgender girls and women are stronger than other girls and women, but athletic organizations like the NCAA and International Olympic Committee allow transgender women to compete in women’s sports competitions as long they are taking treatment to supress testosterone.

Mizell admitted that there are no current problems in Louisiana with transgender girls and women competing in sports. She said her bill was supposed to be a preemptive measure — to catch a problem before it occurred.

The Louisiana High School Athletic Association already has strict rules in place that make it impossible for transgender athletes — either girls or boys — to compete in high school sports, according to transgender advocates. 

Louisiana tourism officials have warned that the legislation could damage the state’s economy. College and professional sports leagues have been willing to pull events from states that have passed transgender restrictions. Business associations and conferences may also boycott Louisiana if the state was perceived to be discriminatory against transgender people, they said.