Joining a handful of other states who have prioritized legislating trans girls and trans out of girls’ sports, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican, recently signed an exclusionary bill into law. This law, like a growing number of legislation across the nation, aims to keep trans girls out of sports for girls. During a Friday morning interview with MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle, however, the governor was unable to reference any specific example of transgender athletes in his state trying to get an unfair advantage in girls’ sports. The governor also suggested there are only twelve “transgender-type” kids in his entire state.
"Can you give me one example of a transgender child trying to get an unfair advantage, just one, in your state?” Ruhle asked Justice. She added, “You signed a bill about it.” Surprising no one, Justice could not give even one example, which has been a consistent response to this question when asked of elected officials across the country. Why? Because this is not a real issue—it’s a hateful distraction. Let’s check out the rest of the interview, and the video clip, below.
Ruhle pointed out to Justice that West Virginia is not short on issues. For example, in terms of infrastructure, education, and its economy. With so many pressing issues, why prioritize a bill that he can’t cite one specific example of a related issue?
Justice handled this question by deflecting. “It wasn’t my bill,” he said, stressing that lawmakers sent it to him and he signed it. He added that he signs “hundreds of bills, hundreds of bills. This is not a priority to me.”
So, if it’s not a priority to him, and he has no specific examples of trans girls creating issues by playing on girls’ sports teams in his state, what was his rationale for supporting and signing the bill into law? He referenced his experience as a coach as his reasoning but, again, did not cite a specific incident in his own experience.
“Not yourself, your state,” Ruhle clarified when Justice said he did not have a personal example himself to share. “Sir,” she continued. “Can you give me one example of a transgender child trying to get an unfair advantage, just one, in your state? You signed a bill about it.”
“I coach a girl's basketball team and I can tell you, we all know what an absolute advantage boys would have playing against girls,” Justice stated. “We don't need that.” Mind you, no one is suggesting that cisgender boys compete against cisgender girls. We are talking about trans girls—who are girls—playing with and against cisgender girls. It’s transphobic and exclusionary to characterize trans girls as boys when they are fundamentally not.
Justice, like many other Republicans who are fighting to keep trans girls on the sidelines, suggested his support of the bill is about protecting girls in sports. Justice said he signed the bill because he believes “from the standpoint of a coach, I believe that girls work so hard to obtain Title IX, and I do not have any idea now why we are trying to disadvantage them in participating in a sport that they put so much into.” He also repeated that “This is not like it’s a big priority to me.”
In the end, Ruhle thanked the governor and encouraged him to come back … when he has something “beyond anecdotal feelings as a coach” to share and is able to “show me evidence where those young women are being disadvantaged in your state."
You can check out the video below.