MSNBC host hammers West Virginia governor over ban of transgender athletes in female sports

MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle asks West Virginia governor Jim Justice why the state banned transgender athletes in female sports  (MSNBC)
MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle asks West Virginia governor Jim Justice why the state banned transgender athletes in female sports (MSNBC)
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Republican governor Jim Justice was grilled on MSNBC over West Virginia’s ban of transgender athletes from competing in female sports at public middle schools and colleges.

Network anchor Stephanie Ruhle on Friday demanded Mr Justice give "just one" example in the state of a transgender child trying to gain an unfair advantage in sports events.

“I can’t really tell you one," Mr Justice responded.

"But I can tell you this, Stephanie, I’m a coach and I coach a girl’s basketball team and I can tell you, we all know — we all know what absolute advantage boys would have playing against girls,” Mr Justice added.

Ms Ruhle said there were "no examples" of that happening in West Virginia and asked why the governor would prioritize the issue over other key issues like education, health care, the economy and infrastructure.

Mr Justice said he "didn’t make it a priority" and that it wasn’t his proposal, prompting Ms Ruhle to push back. "You signed it,” she reminded the governor.

The bill was among 38 signed by Mr Justice this week after narrowly passing the state Senate and easily gaining approval in its House of Delegates.

It is among several similar bills banning transgender athletes competing on girls teams that have passed in Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi, with more expected in South Dakota and Florida, according to the Associated Press.

“I mean for crying out loud, Stephanie, I sign hundreds of bills, hundreds of bills,” he said. “This is not a priority to me. But with all of that, I would say, I think that it would impose an unfair disadvantage on the girls. So, from that standpoint, I support it.”

Mr Justice said he signed the bill to protect the Title IX federal civil rights protections that "girls worked so hard to obtain". Title IX is an amendment to the Education Amendments Act that prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school activities or educational programs that receive federal funding.

"I do not have any idea now why we are trying to disadvantage them in participating in a sport that they put so much into,” Mr Justice said. “I don’t know why we’re doing that. This is not like it’s a big priority to me.”

Mr Justice said that there were likely no more than 12 transgender children in West Virginia, and Ms Ruhle invited the governor back when he could offer evidence that any were attempting to gain an unfair advantage in female sports.

"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," Ms Ruhle said.

"Because I can show you evidence about how ranking that low in education is disadvantaging young women, and men, in West Virginia."

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