It is always best to prepare for a live television interview especially when it comes to a bill signed into law a couple days earlier. Someone who should have heeded this advice is West Virginia Governor Jim Justice. On Wednesday, April 28, Justice signed West Virginia HB 3293, a bill that bans transgender girls and women from participating in girls/ women’s sports at a secondary or collegiate level.
The bill defines in transphobic language:
Classifications based on gender identity serve no legitimate relationship to the State of West Virginia’s interest in promoting equal athletic opportunities for the female sex; and
Classification of teams according to biological sex (defined in the bill as an individual’s physical form as a male or female based solely on the individual’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth.) is necessary to promote equal athletic opportunities for the female sex.
The bill, which has been nicknamed the Save Girls Sports Act, passed the state’s House of Delegates by a vote of 78-20 and passed the state Senate by a narrow margin vote of 18-15.
On Friday, April 30, Justice went on MSNBC Live with Stephanie Ruhle to discuss the COVID vaccination efforts in West Virginia. Justice proudly touted the state’s high vaccination rate and the initiative to get younger West Virginians between the ages of 16 and 35 to get the vaccination by offering them a $100 savings bond.
After discussing with the governor about the United Mine Workers Association’s endorsement of President Biden’s clean energy transition push, Ruhle turned the discussion of Justice signing HB 3293 into law and asked Justice to name one example of a transgender child trying to gain an unfair competitive advantage at a school in West Virginia. Justice responded that he has not personally seen it to which Ruhle restated the question of an example for the state. The governor explained:
“No, I can’t really tell you one, but I can tell you this, Stephanie. 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.”
Exasperated by the governor’s answer, Ruhle took the governor to task for not being able to give a solid example regarding his assertion.
“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 U.S. News and World Report, West Virginia ranks 45th in education, 47th in healthcare, 48th on the economy, and 50th in infrastructure. You cannot 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.”
Justice replied by stating he didn’t make it a priority and signed it because as a coach he believes girls shouldn’t be put at a disadvantage. He goes on to claim that he thinks there are only 12 kids in West Virginia that are transgender. Ruhle ends the interview by inviting the West Virginia governor to come back when he can provide solid evidence of transgender girls and women using an unfair advantage in girls’ sports and not his feelings as a coach.
You can watch Stephanie Ruhle’s takedown of WV Governor Jim Justice below.
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Sources: West Virginia Legislature, WSAZ, NBC News, MSNBC, MSNBC Official YouTube Channel, U.S News and World Report, NPR,