In a clip that is going viral on social media, MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle puts some hard facts in front of West Virginia Governor Jim Justice. Yesterday, it was reported that Justice became the latest governor to sign a bill to restrict trans girls from playing sports that correspond with their gender in public middle schools, high schools, and universities. The state followed others like Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi. But Ruhle wanted to know why.
"The law you just signed, bans transgender female athletes from playing on women's school sports teams," she began in a clip. "Can you name one example of a transgender child, trying to gain an unfair competitive advantage at a school, there, in West Virginia?"
"Well, Stephanie I don't have that experience to myself, exactly, right now," Justice responded.
"No, not yourself," Ruhle continued. "Your state. 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's question was getting at an ongoing issue with these bills: the vast majority of them are being pushed in states that have never seen the issue arise.
“Anti-transgender sports bills are in search of a problem that does not exist and just the latest iteration of a years-long losing fight against equality,” Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Council, said in a statement earlier this year. “In fact, anti-equality legislators when challenged are unable to name any instances of alleged cheating in their states to gain a competitive edge. That is because there are none."
"I can't really tell you one, but I can tell you this Stephanie," Justice told Ruhle. "I'm a coach and I coach a girls' basketball team. And I can tell you we all know what an absolute advantage boys would have playing against girls."
"But sir," Ruhle cut in. "You have no examples of this happening. Why would you take your time to do this? Let's talk about other things that I can give you examples of in your state. According to US News and World Report, West Virginia ranks 45th in education, 47th in health care, 48th on the economy, and 50th in infrastructure. If you can not name one single example for me, of a child doing this, why would you make this a priority? I just named four things that would seem to me like a much bigger priority."
In the resulting exchange, Justice put off blame saying that he didn't write the bull and only signed it. From his perspective, his action was protecting Title IX rights.
"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 because I can show you evidence how ranking that low in education is a disadvantage for young women and men in West Virgina," Ruhle finished.