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U.S. Senate candidate Jim Banks says he's running to keep trans kids out of sports

The Indiana representative has a history of fighting LGBTQ equality and misgendering transgender people.

By Josh Israel - February 03, 2023
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Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., right, speaks as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., listens during a news conference on the House Jan. 6 Committee, on June 9, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
FILE - Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., right, speaks as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., listens during a news conference on the House Jan. 6 Committee, on June 9, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Banks, a combative defender of former President Donald Trump, on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023, launched a campaign for the U.S. Senate seat from Indiana being given up by fellow Republican Mike Braun. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

The National Republican Senatorial Committee on Tuesday expressed support for Indiana Republican Rep. Jim Banks’ campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2024. On Thursday, Banks declared in a column for the right-wing site Townhall, “I’m Running for Senate to Protect Girls’ Sports from Woke Radicalism.”

While other Republicans in the state have not yet announced whether they’ll run for the seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Mike Braun, who is running for governor, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair Steve Daines said in a statement, “I’m looking forward to working with one of our top recruits this cycle, Jim Banks, to keep Indiana red in 2024.”

In his column, Banks wrote: “I’m the father of three beautiful, talented girls who deserve a chance to compete on a fair field and have access to a locker room where they feel safe. They should have every opportunity to benefit from sports and competition just like their male peers do. Yet that opportunity is being ripped away.”

He objected to transgender and gender-nonconforming kids participating in girls’ sports and touted his efforts starting a “Congressional Anti-Woke Caucus to combat the woke cancer that has infiltrated our schools, businesses, and institutions.”

On Friday, he tweeted his column and wrote: “The Left likes to say they only ‘follow the science,’ so let’s follow the science. Biological men don’t belong in girls’ sports.”

Banks also urged people to sign a “petition” to agree that “Women’s sports are for women, not biological men,” though the fine print at the bottom reveals the form is really a sign-up sheet for his Senate campaign’s fundraising list.

Contrary to Banks’ claim, experts say efforts to bar transgender girls from playing sports on the teams that match their gender identity are not grounded in science; such efforts are opposed by top medical organizations.

Dr. Eric Vilain, a pediatrician and geneticist, told NPR in 2021 that “higher levels of the male hormone testosterone are associated with better performance only in a very small number of athletic disciplines” and that trans athletes are not “systematically winning all competitions.”

A 2020 ACLU fact sheet quotes endocrinologist Dr. Joshua D. Safer of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai as saying: “A person’s genetic make-up and internal and external reproductive anatomy are not useful indicators of athletic performance. … [For a trans woman athlete who meets NCAA standards,] there is no inherent reason why her physiological characteristics related to athletic performance should be treated differently from the physiological characteristics of a non-transgender woman.”

“Eleven years after trans women were first allowed in, they’re not dominating women’s sports; they’re still hugely underrepresented,” Joanna Harper, a doctoral researcher at the Loughborough University School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, told Spotlight PA last June. “And I think that’s an indication that whatever advantages trans women have, there are numerous disadvantages as well.”

The American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics are among the medical groups that have opposed proposals that discriminate against transgender student athletes.

“What I know about transgender children is they’re just like any other kids; they want to fit in,” Dr. Al Nofal, co-vice president of the South Dakota chapter of the latter group and a pediatric endocrinologist, told the AAP News in March 2021. “Proposing not letting them fit in in sports will greatly impact their physical and emotional well-being — not just as athletes, as regular children.”

This is not the first time Banks has attacked LGBTQ people.

In October 2021 he was suspended from Twitter for violating its prohibition on hate speech after he intentionally misgendered U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health Rachel Levine, the highest-ranking openly transgender official in U.S. history, in a tweet.

He also pushed the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act, a bill that would have required that “sex shall be recognized based solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth.” It would have denied federal funds to anyone who allowed a trans woman “to participate in an athletic program or activity that is designated for women or girls.” The bill did not pass out of committee.

Banks earned a 0% rating from the Human Rights Campaign for voting against LGBTQ equality during each of his first three terms in the House of Representatives.

On his official House website, he boasts of receiving the “True Blue Member” award in 2019 from FRC Action, the political arm of Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council. The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated the organization an anti-LGBTQ hate group.

Former President Donald Trump endorsed Banks on Wednesday.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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