Republican 2024 presidential hopeful Nikki Haley said Sunday that keeping transgender kids from playing on school sports teams was the “women’s issue of our time” during a CNN town hall event.
Haley, a former governor of South Carolina and U.S. ambassador to the U.N., has made the comment before, but her rhetoric Sunday plays into the Republican Party’s ongoing assault against transgender Americans. GOP lawmakers have made anti-LGBTQ legislation a key focus of the 2024 race, including the sports team plans and efforts to limit access to medically necessary health care for trans youth.
“How are we supposed to get girls used to the fact that biological boys are in their locker rooms?” Haley asked during the event, attempting to link the idea with the prevalence of teen suicide among young girls. “We should be growing strong girls, confident girls.”
Nikki Haley discussing trans girls in kids sports: "How are we supposed to get our girls used to the fact that biological boys are in their locker room. And then we wonder why a third of our teenage girls seriously contemplated suicide last year." pic.twitter.com/rA2lD06yVe
— Abby D. Phillip (@abbydphillip) June 5, 2023
A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report found an increased level of suicide risk among teen girls, but there is no evidence to suggest the inclusion of trans athletes on sports teams contributes.
In fact, more than 40% of transgender and nonbinary young people in the U.S. have seriously considered suicide, according to recent findings from the Trevor Project. The group also found that two-thirds of that group say ongoing efforts to restrict freedoms for LGBTQ people have had a negative impact on their mental health.
Moderator Jake Tapper pressed Haley on her comments, and she said the country needed “to take care of these kids” and be “humane” in discussions about trans issues. But she said the discussion about inclusion on sports teams — an issue driven by Republicans — had “overtaken the entire conversation, and that’s not fair to the rest of our kids.”
“I want everybody to live the way they want to live,” she said. “But stop pushing your views on everybody else.”
There are currently nearly 500 bills targeting queer Americans before lawmakers during the 2023 legislative session, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Those include efforts to limit how teachers can discuss sexuality and gender identity, and attempts to ban drag shows.
One of the most important women’s rights issues of our time. pic.twitter.com/RyhZESZzYC
— Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley) April 22, 2023