Mississippi Lawmakers, Trans People

Mississippi Lawmakers Silence Bills Restricting Legal Recognition of Trans People

Justice for the trans community!

Mississippi’s GOP-led legislature decided not to host final votes on two bills that attempt to restrict the legal recognition of transgender people.

The bills were killed quietly after House and Senate leaders couldn’t agree on compromise versions before the April 29 deadline, as lawmakers claim to have been working on other triggering issues. One bill would restrict transgender people from using bathrooms and locker rooms in public buildings, including university dorms, while the other would have labeled sex as defined at birth and that “there are only two sexes, and every individual is either male or female.”

With the House and Senate previously passing different versions of both bills, Republican-controlled chambers would need to agree on a single version of each before it heads to the desk of Republican Gov. Tate Reeves. Reeves signed legislation in 2021 banning transgender athletes from competing on girls’ or women’s sports teams. In 2023, he signed a bill to ban gender-affirming hormones or surgery for trans kids younger than 18.

The proposals are two of several bills being considered by state lawmakers across the U.S. as Republicans look to restrict the transgender community’s access to gender-affirming care, bathrooms, sports, and more. Despite the new Title IX rules revealed by the Biden administration adding “gender identity” officially to the list of protections from sex-based discrimination, Louisiana’s Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley instructed schools to ignore them, according to The Hill

In the letter, Brumley wrote the new regulations appear to be “in direct contradiction” with a state law banning transgender student-athletes from competing on sports teams that coincide with their gender identity. “You can rest assured that they have the full intent of this applying completely to athletics moving forward,” Brumley said. 

Top education chiefs in Oklahoma, Florida, Montana, and South Carolina have also directed their districts to defy the rule. Oklahoma State Superintendent Ryan Walters shared similar sentiments with Brumley, stating, “We are very proud of our districts that are holding the line, and we will never allow Joe Biden to control our schools and indoctrinate our kids.” 

Education and policy advocates feel the rule puts school districts nationwide at risk of potential legal challenges. Districts who follow the federal regulation are at risk of political fallout from defying state orders. However, if they ignore federal law, a civil rights investigation could come to light, leading to the threat of losing federal funding. “It is what I call an untenable position,” Francisco M. Negrón, Jr., founder and CEO of school law advocacy and policy firm K12Counsel, said. 

“It’s clear that, in some jurisdictions at least, schools will have to decide which rules to follow—with some very consequential outcomes.”