In an interview with MSNBC, the governor of West Virginia was unable to provide evidence of trans athletes posing an unfair advantage to cisgender athletes, despite signing a bill into law Wednesday that would ban trans women and girls from competing on sports teams of their gender identity.
“I don’t have that experience exactly myself right now,” Governor Jim Justice replied when asked by anchor Stephanie Ruhle to cite an example of a trans athlete trying to gain a competitive advantage by joining a girls’ sport team. When Ruhle then asked him to provide an example not from his own experience, but from his state, the governor responded, “I can’t really tell you one, but I can tell you this, Stephanie: I’m a coach. And I coach a girls’ basketball team. And I can tell you that we all know what an absolute advantage boys would have playing against girls.”
When asked why Justice would make this bill a priority when West Virginia faces other pressing issues that impact child welfare — including ranking 45th in education and 47th in health care — the governor replied that he didn’t think the bill was a priority; however, he signed it into law because he did agree with its mandate.
“It’s just come to me and I have absolutely signed it because I believe from the standpoint of a coach, I believe that girls worked so hard to obtain Title IX,” he said. “And I do not have any idea now why we are trying to disadvantage them in participating in the sport that they put so much into. I don’t know why we’re doing that,” he added.
“This is not like it’s a big priority to me. In fact, I think we only have twelve kids maybe in our state that are transgender type kids,” the governor then said.
West Virginia is one of multiple states around the country that have proposed or signed into law anti-trans legislation that would bar trans athletes from playing on sports teams of their assigned gender, or which would prevent trans youth from seeking gender affirming treatment.