Let Them Play?: The Evolution of Amateur Anti-transgender Sports Participation as a Republican Party Platform


The Republican Party in the United States has been steadily moving towards a more “conservative” moral policy platform since the early 1980s with the overwhelming influence of the Moral Majority and the Christian Coalition at the national level. This evolution continues at the state level today, with a focus on protecting individuals, especially children. One of the most recent narratives in this movement is legislation to prevent transgender athletes from participating in amateur sports. In 2021, 35 bills have been introduced in 31 states that attempt to exclude transgender youth from participating in athletics. This study looks at the reasons why this area of legislation has gained traction amongst state Republican parties, even though it doesn’t necessarily have overwhelming public support. It also considers the private organizations who support these bills and why the bills fit into the Republican Party’s agenda of protection that was nationally codified during the 2016 and 2020 Republican National Conventions. The paper concludes by analyzing the success of passage of these bills and the results of their passage through economic, political, and societal measures.


Leanne Doherty
Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Political Science and IR, Simmons University, Massachusetts, United States


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Sport Betting and eSport


Intersectionality, Transgender Identity, Formal Politics in the US, Republican Party

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