March 25 (UPI) — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Thursday signed a law banning transgender women from participating on girls’ and women’s sports teams.
In a statement announcing the signing, Hutchinson said he “studied the law and heard from hundreds of constituents” before establishing it as law.
“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 designated for women’s competition,” he said. “As I have stated previously, I agree with the intention of this law. This will help promote fairness in women’s sporting events.”
The law states that transgender girls and women would have “physiological advantages” over cisgender competitors and would allow a student or school that faces “direct or indirect harm” from someone violating the ban to take legal action.
Transgender activists have condemned the bill as discriminatory against transgender athletes.
“This bill is hateful and wrong, but we’re not done fighting for the rights and human dignity of transgender Arkansans. Not now, not ever,” the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas wrote on Twitter.
The Human Rights Campaign described the legislation as “cruel and harmful.”
“Governor Hutchinson’s eagerness to sign this discriminatory legislation is an affront not just to the transgender kids it is bound to hurt but to all Arkansans who will be impacted by its consequences,” the organization wrote on Twitter.
Mississippi signed a similar bill earlier this month and Idaho enacted a ban in 2020 but it was blocked by a court ruling.