Governor of Arkansas Asa Hutchinson (R) signed a law Thursday that will prohibit transgender girls and women from participating in K-12 and college-level sports that align with their gender identity.
Hutchinson’s passage comes despite criticism from medical and child welfare groups who argued that the law would negatively affect transgender youth. It also makes Arkansas the second state to pass a transgender sports ban this year, according to The Associated Press.
“This law simply says that female athletes should not have to compete in a sport against a male student when the sport is designed for female competition,” Hutchinson wrote in a news release. “As I have said previously, I agree with the intent of this law. This will help promote and maintain fairness in women’s sporting events. “
Nearly 20 state legislatures have pushed for similar Republican-led bans this year, the AP noted. Earlier this month, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves (R) signed a bill that prohibits transgender athletes from participating in women’s sports in public schools.
The law has faced rejection from multiple LGBT rights groups. The Human Rights Campaign, one of the nation’s largest LGBT advocacy groups, noted that the ban will not only affect transgender athletes, but the entire Arkansas community.
“Hutchinson is ignoring the ugly history of states that have dared to pass anti-transgender laws in years past, and in doing so, exposing Arkansas to economic damage, costly taxpayer-funded legal battles and a tarnished reputation,” Alphonso said David, the group’s president, said in a statement, according to the AP.
Earlier this week, Hutchinson acknowledged that she did not want the law to result in transgender people and the LGBT community being targeted, according to the news outlet. He also stated that he hoped to enact a hate crime law to show his support for the community.
“I want the message to be that we want to make sure that everyone is protected, that everyone is treated the same under the law,” Hutchinson told the AP. “That’s very, very important, whether it’s transgender or some other characteristic.”