LA Senator Barrow Advocates for Women With Legislation, but Lets Down Transgender Women With Vote

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On Wednesday, the Louisiana Senate Education Committee approved legislation SB 156 that will restrict transgender youth from participating in public school athletics, by forbidding them from participating on the sports teams that matches their gender identity. 

State Senator Beth Mizell has defended the bill, which she authored, by saying its purpose is not to attack transgender people but rather protect women, a sentiment that neglects to recognize transgender women as women. Mizell clarified this stance, commenting that if transgender women can play on women’s sports teams they will “no longer be women’s sports.”

The bill is nearly identical to legislation that was rejected by a Louisiana House committee on Tuesday. It’s not a coincidence that these two similar bills were filed in Louisiana. Republican legislators across the country have been filing similar legislation, prioritizing this issue. 

Supporters of this legislation say transgender women will dominate women’s sports because they were born with more muscular bodies. It’s prudent to point out that many of these individuals didn’t care about women’s sports until they could ban transgender women from them. 

Also notable is the fact that many can’t name a single instance where this has happened, showing it’s not a reflection of the current reality but simply fear. When state Senator Cleo Fields asked Senator Mizell if there was any instance in Louisiana where a transgender girl wanted to play on a girl’s youth sports team, she said she wasn’t aware of any.

She could not name one. In the whole state. And she authored the bill.

“So it’s not a problem in Louisiana, now?” Senator Fields asked. 

“Not in Louisiana,” Mizell responded. 

A Louisiana Trans Advocates representative commented that “The bill is misleading, divisive, and unnecessary. I don’t believe it will become law in Louisiana . I’m disappointed by the results of the floor vote.” 

Dr. Clifton S. Mixon, a child psychologist at Ochsner, commented that the bill “solves a problem that doesn’t exist” and “approaches a very complex issue with a mallet that’s going to hurt a lot of people… We’re overly focused on competitiveness and not humanity.” 

Transgender youths already have to deal with heightened levels of bullying, self-loathing, and suicidal thoughts and this bill will only further the harassment and inner turmoil that causes these problems. 

For similar reasons, Governor John Bel Edwards indicated that he would veto the bill if it makes it to his desk. “I am really concerned about emotionally fragile people and the idea that the weight of the state would be put behind something that to me is unnecessary and discriminatory and very hurtful for those individuals when there’s not a compelling reason to do it.” 

Faced with the argument that the bill is unnecessary, Mizell labeled it a “preemptive measure” for what she must assume is an inevitable future where men become transgender women just to play on youth sports teams. 

Deciding that a “preemptive measure” was pressing enough in importance to pass, the bill received the approval of 28 Senators, with only 6 voting against it. The vote occurred after only 5-6 minutes of consideration during which no questions were asked. 

Surprisingly, state Senator Regina Barrow was one of the senators who voted for the bill. 

Barrow advocated for transgender individuals in a piece of legislation she authored, SB 151. This bill “Enacts the Foster Youth’s Bill of Rights for youth ages fourteen through eighteen in foster care.” A section of the bill stipulated that youths in foster care will have “The right to be free from derogatory comments regarding sexual preference, pronouns, gender identity, and to be addressed by the youth’s preferred pronoun.” 

Senator Barrow has also regularly positioned herself as an advocate for women. Senator Barrow’s bill SB 215 will require employers to provide employees who are pregnant and postpartum with reasonable accommodations in the workplace facilitating safe and healthy pregnancies and better infant and maternal health outcomes.

The Louisiana Democratic Party even tweeted “Louisiana Democrats stand with Senator @ReginaBarrow as she fights for Louisiana women and families.” 

Yet, in this instance, Senator Barrow let down transgender women, with a vote that will open them up to more harassment and limitations. She’s chosen to advocate for women but not transgender women. 

Senator Barrow’s office did not respond to our request for comment. 

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