Transgender athletes will ‘destroy women’s sports,’ governor claims

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said Wednesday allowing transgender female athletes to participate in school sports under their gender identity would "destroy women's sports."

Lee's comment came after a bill, which would require middle and high school student athletes to participate in school sports under their gender assigned at birth, advanced in the House on Tuesday night.

The legislation deems it unfair for student athletes to compete with each other if they do not share the same biological sex. The bill, which argues boys can be physically stronger than girls and can therefore cause injuries to girl players, would effectively ban student participation in school sports under their chosen gender identity.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee speaks during his third State of the State address held at War Memorial Auditorium on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021 in Nashville, Tenn.

Similar legislation triggered controversy last year and failed to advance in either legislative chamber. While proponents say the bill is one of fairness and gender equality, the bill spurred criticism that it discriminates against transgender children.

"The bill is discriminatory in and of itself, but it's also misleading," said Tennessee Equality Project Executive Director Chris Sanders. "They are not providing a path for everyone to play, they are picking a group of people and trying to find a way to sit them out."

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