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.
The bill states in part:
Whereas, the benefits that natural testosterone provides to male athletes are not diminished through the use of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones. A recent study on the impact of such treatments found that policies like those of the International Olympic Committee that require biological males to undergo at least one year of testosterone suppression before competing in women’s sports do not create a level playing field. “[T]he reduction in testosterone levels required by many sports federation transgender policies is insufficient to remove or reduce the male advantage by any meaningful degree.”
For example, “the muscle mass advantage males possess over females, and potentially the performance implications thereof, are not removed by 12 months of testosterone suppression.” Instead, the study concluded that “The data presented here demonstrates that the male physical performance advantage over females, attributed to superior anthropometric and muscle mass/strength parameters achieved at puberty, is not removed by the current regimen of testosterone suppression permitting participation of transgender women in female sports categories. Rather, it appears that the male performance advantage is largely retained by transgender women and thus remains substantial.”
On March 11, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signed a bill banning biological males from competing in women’s sports.
“I never imagined dealing with this, but POTUS left us no choice,” Reeves wrote on Twitter. “One of his first acts was to sign an EO encouraging transgenderism in children. So today, I proudly signed the Mississippi Fairness Act to ensure young girls are not forced to compete against biological males.”