Jim Justice
In this Nov. 3, 2020, file photo, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice celebrates his reelection at The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

AP Photo/Chris Jackson, File

  • MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle skewered West Virginia's governor over an anti-trans bill he signed.
  • Gov. Jim Justice couldn't provide evidence of trans women gaining unfair advantages in sports.
  • "If you cannot name one single example for me of a child doing this, why would you make this a priority?" she asked.
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West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice struggled to come up with a single example of a transgender athlete gaining an unfair advantage in sports while being grilled Friday by MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle over why he signed a bill targeting transgender athletes.

"Can you name one example of a transgender child trying to gain an unfair competitive advantage at a school there in West Virginia?" Ruhle asked Justice.

"Well, Stephanie, I don't have that experience exactly to myself right now -," Justice replied.

"Not yourself, your state, sir. Can you give me one example of a transgender child trying to get an unfair advantage? Just one, in your state. You signed a bill about it," she pressed.

The bill Justice signed bans transgender student athletes at public high schools and universities from competing on a sports team that doesn't match their biological sex "where competitive skill or contact is involved," according to CNN.

The latest measure in West Virginia is part of an unprecedented wave of bills targeting transgender youth, and particularly the ability of female transgender students to participate in women's sports being advanced by GOP lawmakers around the country.

And yet, many Republican lawmakers, including Justice on MSNBC, have had trouble coming up with specific cases or examples of female transgender athletes securing an unfair competitive advantage over other athletes. In North Carolina, GOP lawmakers shelved a similar bill this week after the legislature found no evidence of trans women gaining an edge in sports competitions.

Justice tried leveraging his experience coaching a girl's basketball team, saying "we all know" that boys would have an "absolute advantage" playing against girls.

But Ruhle wasn't having it.

"But, sir, you have no examples of this happening. Why would you take your time to do this? Let's talking about other things that I can give you examples of in your state," she said.

"According to US News & World Report, West Virginia ranks 45th in education, 47th in healthcare, 48th on the economy, and 50th on infrastructure. If 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," she continued.

Justice responded by saying he "didn't make it a priority," the legislature did, but that he signed it to advance women's rights in sports.

"I believe, from the standpoint of a coach, that girls work so hard to obtain Title IX, and I do not have any idea now why we are trying to disadvantage them in participating in the sports that they put so much into," he said.

"I think we only have 12 kids maybe in our state that are transgender-type kids. I mean, for crying out loud, Stephanie, I sign hundreds of bills, hundreds of bill," Justice added. "This is not a priority to me, but with all that, I would say I think that it would impose an unfair disadvantage on the girls."

Ruhle ended the interview by saying: "Thank you, sir, and please come back when beyond anecdotal feelings as a coach, you can show me evidence where those young women are being disadvantaged in your state, because I can show you evidence about how ranking that low on education does disadvantage young women and men in West Virginia."

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