Jim Justice Didn't Think He Was Going To Need Actual Evidence To Justify Transphobic Law

State/Local Politics
Jim Justice Didn't Think He Was Going To Need Actual Evidence To Justify Transphobic Law

On Thursday, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice signed a law that would prohibit transgender girls and women in the state from competing in elementary, secondary, or post-secondary level school sports on girls' and women's teams — supposedly to prevent them from having an "unfair advantage." Prior to signing this law, he told reporters he would do so "proudly," and despite the fact that the NCAA had threatened to refuse to hold any tournaments in the state should he pass it.

Given this, you'd think it would be something he'd really want to talk about. After all, what kind of person would sign something like that into law without first really thinking and considering what it would actually mean, what existing problems it would actually solve?

Well, it was not. Justice, in fact, seemed rather taken aback when MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle questioned him about the legislation and expected him to know something about it.

It turns out that while Gov. Justice was "proud" to sign this bill into law, he could not actually come up with a single instance of this ever even happening or being any kind of issue in his state. Oh, and he also didn't consider it a priority and appeared to be offended that Ruehle assumed it was, just because he had "proudly" signed the legislation.

And so it was that Stephanie Ruhle dragged him for filth.

Via Politico:

"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," Ruhle said.

"No, I can't really tell you one," Justice said. "But I can tell you this, Stephanie … I coach a girls' basketball team and I can tell you ... we all know what an absolute advantage boys would have playing against girls. We don't need that."

Ruhle then asked why Justice made the bill a priority, pointing to West Virginia's rankings near the bottom of states on its economy, education and infrastructure, among other things, according to U.S. News and World Report.

"I didn't make it a priority. It wasn't my bill," said Justice, who declared earlier this week that he'd "proudly" sign the legislation despite warnings that the NCAA could pull postseason tournaments out of the state in response.

"Well, you signed it, sir," Ruhle said.

"I think we only have 12 kids maybe in our state that are transgender-type kids," Justice said. "I mean for crying out loud, Stephanie, I sign hundreds of bills, hundreds of bills. This is not a priority to me."

"Alright then, sir, thank you," Ruhle said. "And please come back when, beyond anecdotal feelings as a coach, you can show me evidence where those young women are being disadvantaged in your state."

Laws affect people's lives. This law affects the lives of trans girls and women who want to be able to play sports on teams consistent with their gender identity, and whether it is just one person or 12 or 1000 (West Virginia actually has the highest percentage of teens who identify as trans in the nation), a law that affects their lives is worth some small amount of consideration. One would hope that every bill a governor signs into law would be a priority, and that governors are not just going around signing whatever laws happen across their desk, willy nilly.

It also does not matter if he, personally, considers it a priority, because whether or not it was, he signed it into the law. You sign something into law, you get held accountable for it, regardless of your own personal feelings on the matter. Even if you really don't want to discuss it at all because you know full well that the law you just signed was not about protecting girls' sports but rather about hurting trans people.

When Republicans pass or try to pass laws based on things they cannot prove have ever actually happened or are any kind of actual problem, it's almost never about those particular things.

When they try to institute bans on sex-selective or race-selective abortion, it's not because they are things that they can prove actually happen in real life, it's because they want to chip away at abortion rights and make it look like people are choosing abortion for evil reasons.

When they try to pass Voter ID laws, it's not because they actually think that people are tipping elections by going around pretending to be other people in order to vote in their place, but because they believe that the voters least likely to be able to have an ID — whether because they are poor, because they live in a city and don't drive, or because they can't get one because they don't have a birth certificate, as is the case with many elderly Black people born in the Jim Crow era — are more likely to vote for Democrats.

And when West Virginia Republicans pass a law banning transgender girls from competing in girls' sports, it's not because they are desperate to solve a widespread issue of trans girls or women gaining an "unfair advantage" in sports. It's not because they are protecting the athletic experiences of cisgender girls, but because they just want to discriminate against transgender people and have been searching for any opportunity to do so in the years since gay people went and made their marriages less special. Whether it is their own self-esteem issues that make them just desperately want to get to be legally better than someone else or because they are angry that trans people exist in the first place, that is what they are trying to do.

Whether or not this law is a personal priority for Jim Justice, he signed it. He gave those people their idiotic discriminatory law, and now he's going to have to explain himself.


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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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