Mississippi Senate Bill 2536, the anti-transgender bill aimed at banning trans athletes from participating in women’s sports, passed last week. The fact that we even have to be releasing this op-ed just days after International Women’s Day is a disappointing reality that sometimes comes with living in this state. As a refresher, it passed through the Mississippi House of Representatives 82-28, and the Mississippi Senate 34-9.
This Senate bill, quite frankly, is dangerous. It perpetuates unsubstantiated claims of athletic advantage that have continued to be refuted, cultivates an environment that actively encourages students to either stand with or stand against trans students and openly introduces us to potential sanctions from the NCAA. How something so problematic managed to make it through state legislature is embarrassing and serves as another demoralizing reminder of the work that still needs to be done across this state.
It also doesn’t help that so many disenfranchised communities in our state continue to be disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and poor infrastructure. The state government, surprisingly, has the time to push through legislation like this instead of protecting the public health of citizens, providing COVID-19 economic relief or supporting Jackson leadership with the water crisis.
As elected student leaders and members of this UM community, standing up for our students in the face of blatant discrimination is a necessity. It’s easy to label this issue as unimportant or too controversial to have an opinion. There are likely many out there who agree with the principles that went into the bill’s creation. This isn’t meant to serve as an attack on individual thought, but instead, this is an appeal to humanity.
All of us every day are challenged to live by the UM Creed and “believe in respect for the dignity of each person.”
When state legislation is so openly hostile and imbued with prejudice as this Senate bill, we have to be the very best of ourselves and rally together behind our shared university bonds. Whether or not you know a trans athlete, and regardless of how you feel personally about the idea of trans athletes competing in women’s sports, we can’t sit back idly and watch discriminatory legislation be passed and enacted. That sets a dangerous precedent and will always set us back, not guide us forward.
The Associated Student Body will always stand with our underrepresented and minority students across campus, including those that identify as a part of the LGBTQ community. We encourage and celebrate the positive diversity of the LGBTQ communities and assist in the education of all of our student body. Most importantly, we will never waiver in fighting for the safety of our students and their experiences.
Austin Newcomb is the ASB Director of LGBTQ+ outreach and a senior majoring integrated marketing communications from Corinth.
Morgan Atkins is the 2021-2022 ASB President and is a junior majoring in public policy leadership from Olive Branch.
Anna Hall is the ASB Co-Director of External Affairs and is a senior majoring in public policy leadership and journalism from Franklin, Tenn.
Joshua Mannery is the 2020-2021 ASB President and is a senior majoring in political science from Jackson.