Mississippi House of Representatives passes bill seeking to define sex in binary terms News
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Mississippi House of Representatives passes bill seeking to define sex in binary terms

The Mississippi House of Representatives passed on Wednesday a bill that seeks to define sex in strictly binary terms, impacting the recognition of transgender individuals’ identities within the state. The Mississippi Women’s Bill of Rights reflects a broader trend among Republican-controlled legislatures in the US to address and restrict the legal acknowledgement of transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals through limited definitions of sex and gender.

Specifically, the bill explicitly defines the terms “woman,” “man,” “mother,” “father,” “female,” “male,” and “sex.” Each of these definitions are grounded in biological distinctions observable or clinically verifiable at birth. Notably, the bill asserts that “sex” is an objective and immutable characteristic, defined strictly as either male or female based on reproductive biology. It explicitly separates the concept of “sex” from “gender identity,” stating that the latter, along with similar subjective terms, cannot be used interchangeably with or as substitutes for “sex” in legal statutes.

Supporters of the bill, including the Independent Women’s Voice, advocated for the bill as a means to provide clarity and uniformity in the legal treatment of sex-based terms. The group claimed that the law will help “to preserve single-sex spaces that are important for privacy, safety, and equal opportunity.” Independent Women’s Voice pointed to recent efforts in other states “to eliminate women as a distinct legal category.”

The ACLU of Mississippi, however, condemned the bill’s effort to narrowly define sex-based terms. The ACLU said, “This bill is part of a calculated attack on trans people and their rights playing out in state legislatures across the country—it seeks to fix problems that do not exist in our state and places trans Mississippians in harm’s way.”

Other state-led efforts to define similar terms recently advanced through Alabama, Nebraska and Oklahoma—with the latter two efforts having passed into law. The efforts are a part of a growing trend that the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) declared amounted to a state of emergency for LGBTQ+ people in the US in 2023 due to the steep increase in laws and harassment targeting the LGBTQ+ community. At the time of HRC’s 2023 report, over 500 anti-LGBTQ+ laws had been introduced in the US.