Arkansas Governor Signs Anti-Transgender Sports Ban Into Law

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a law on March 25 that will ban transgender women and girls from playing in school sports teams under their gender identity.

“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,” the Republican governor said in a statement, adding that it “will help promote and maintain fairness in women’s sporting events” in K-12 and in college.

Hutchinson approved Senate Bill 354 despite objections and criticisms from activists, who claimed that the measure would increase discrimination towards transgender youth.

“This law is a discriminatory and shameful attempt by politicians to stigmatize and exclude transgender teens,” American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas Executive Director Holly Dickson said in a statement.

“We know this bill isn’t really about sports. Just like every other anti-trans piece of legislation, Senate Bill 354 is all about banishing and erasing transgender people from public space,” Dickson further stated.

Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David called Hutchinson’s move as “an affront not just to the transgender kids it is bound to hurt, but to all Arkansans who will be impacted by its consequences.”

“Hutchinson is ignoring the ugly history of states that have dared to pass anti-transgender legislation in years past, and by doing so he is exposing Arkansas to economic harm, expensive taxpayer-funded legal battles, and a tarnished reputation,” David further said in a statement.

Local business leaders have also shown concern that the measure would potentially prompt boycotts that could affect the state’s economy.

Arkansas becomes the second state to enact such a bill into law this year, just two weeks after Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves signed a similar ban.

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