Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed into law on Thursday a bill banning transgender female-identifying athletes from participating in women’s sports.
The new law, meant to preserve the integrity of female sports and protect girls and women from competing against biological males, comes amid a push by state legislatures to enact similar protections.
“Today, I have signed into law SB354, called the ‘Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.’ I have studied the law and heard from hundreds of constituents on this issue. I signed the law as a fan of women’s sports from basketball to soccer and including many others in which women compete successfully,” Hutchinson said in a statement. “This law simply says that female athletes should not have to compete in a sport against a student of the male sex when the sport is designed for women’s competition. As I have stated previously, I agree with the intention of this law. This will help promote and maintain fairness in women’s sporting events.”
GOP lawmakers in at least 20 states have introduced similar legislation this year, according to the Associated Press. Such states are reportedly under pressure by activists and organizations such as the NCAA to avoid implementing such bans. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem recently declined to sign a similar bill and sent it back to the legislature to exempt college sports.
Earlier this week, a group of state representatives introduced similar legislation into the North Carolina General Assembly. The bill cites the “inherent differences between men and women” for banning biological males from women’s sports.