Mississippi Republican Gov. Tate Reeves is surrounded by legislative supporters after signing a bill to ban transgender athletes from competing on girls' or women's sports teams on March 11, 2021, at the state Capitol in Jackson, Miss. Source: AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File

Mississippi Governor Signs Law Restricting Transgender People's Use of Bathrooms and Locker Rooms

Emily Wagster Pettus READ TIME: 2 MIN.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said Monday that he has signed a new law regulating transgender people's use of bathrooms, locker rooms and dormitories in public education buildings, making Mississippi at least the 12th state to restrict transgender students from using facilities that align with their gender identity.

Reeves criticized a federal regulation banning blanket policies that bar transgender students from school bathrooms aligning with their gender, among other provisions. Republican attorneys general from Mississippi and some other states are challenging the federal regulation.

"It's mind blowing that this is what Joe Biden's America has come to," Reeves wrote on social media. "Having to pass common sense policies that protect women's spaces was unimaginable a few years ago. But here we are ... we have to pass a law to protect women in bathrooms, sororities, locker rooms, dressing rooms, shower rooms, and more."

The law requires all public education institutions in the state to equip their buildings with single-sex bathrooms, changing areas and dormitories, as well as at least one gender-neutral bathroom and changing room.

The new law, which took effect immediately, says people would only be allowed to enter spaces that correspond to their sex assigned at birth, regardless of their appearance or any procedures they've had to affirm their gender identity. Those who violate the policy could be sued, but schools, colleges and universities would be protected from liability.

It also declares that people are either male or female "as observed or clinically verified at birth, without regard to a person's psychological, chosen, or subjective experience, feelings, actions, or sense of self."

During legislative debate, Democrats said the new restrictions on bathrooms and other facilities would put transgender people at risk. They also criticized Republicans for spending time on the issue as other legislative priorities remained unfinished.

In 2021, Reeves signed legislation to ban transgender athletes from competing on girls' or women's sports teams. Last year, he signed a bill to ban gender-affirming hormones or surgery for anyone younger than 18.

The Mississippi proposals were among several bills being considered in state legislatures around the country as Republicans try to restrict transgender people's access to gender-affirming care, bathrooms and sports, among other things.

by Emily Wagster Pettus

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