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West Virginia governor signs bill banning transgender athletes from competing in female sports

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West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice signed a bill that banned transgender women and girls from competing in sports in the state. (AP/Chris Jackson)

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice signed a bill on Wednesday that bans transgender athletes from competing in female sports at any level in the state, according to The Associated Press.

The bill, per the report, narrowly passed through the state Senate before it was overwhelmingly approved in the state House of Delegates. It was one of 38 that Justice, a Republican, signed on Wednesday. West Virginia is the latest state to pass such a bill.

Justice said earlier this week that he would “proudly” sign the bill, even with threats of retaliation from lawmakers and others that groups — including the NCAA — could pull events from the state.

“It concerns me that we may miss out on a really important sporting event or something like that that could come to West Virginia,” he said, via The Associated Press. “However, I think the benefits of it way outweigh the bad part of it.”

West Virginia joins other states with trans athlete bills

West Virginia is now the latest state this year to pass similar bills barring transgender women and girls from competing in sports in the state.

Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi all passed similar bills, and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem passed the ruling through an executive order. Governors from both Kansas and North Dakota vetoed bills in their states.

Idaho passed their bill last year, making it the first state to do so in the country, however, it is facing a legal challenge. That bill also allows for transgender women and girls to actually have their genitals checked if their biological sex is changed, but does not hold the same standard to transgender boys or men.

Utah lawmakers also debated the topic, but faced warnings from Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith and team president Jim Olson that passing a bill would likely cost the team the 2023 NBA All-Star Game — something the league did in 2016 after North Carolina’s “bathroom bill.”

Despite these bills becoming more and more popular throughout the country, most lawmakers in these states have been unable to cite an actual situation where transgender participation in youth sports has created an issue. A survey of lawmakers from The Associated Press last month found that almost nobody could cite a concrete example, and two state lawmakers said they didn’t know of a single transgender athlete in their respective states.

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