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Arkansas becomes the third state to ban transgender athletes from female sports teams in schools and colleges as Governor says law will 'help promote and maintain fairness'

 Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson on Thursday signed a law banning transgender women and girls from competing in school sports consistent with their gender identity.

Following Mississippi and Idaho, Arkansas is now the third state to approve such a restriction, although Idaho's enacted law is now being blocked by a court ruling in an ongoing legal dispute.    

Arkansas' law, if it isn't blocked by a legal challenge, would take effect this summer. Under the new law, a student or school who suffers 'direct or indirect harm' could take a school to court for violating the ban. 

So far, 28 states have introduced some form of a bill that would ban transgender student athletes from competing with their chosen gender, according to the ACLU. Of those states, only Arkansas, Mississippi, and Idaho have signed those bills into law, but the latter's is now being blocked in an ongoing legal battle

So far, 28 states have introduced some form of a bill that would ban transgender student athletes from competing with their chosen gender, according to the ACLU. Of those states, only Arkansas, Mississippi, and Idaho have signed those bills into law, but the latter's is now being blocked in an ongoing legal battle 

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson on Thursday signed a law banning transgender women and girls from competing in school sports consistent with their gender identity, making the state the second to approve such a restriction so far this year

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson on Thursday signed a law banning transgender women and girls from competing in school sports consistent with their gender identity, making the state the second to approve such a restriction so far this year 

The Republican governor approved the measure despite objections from medical and child-welfare groups that it would have devastating impacts on transgender youth. Hundreds of college athletes have also urged the NCAA to refuse to hold championships in states that enact such bans. Pan unidentified 12-year-old transgender swimmer in Utah

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson approved the measure despite objections from medical and child-welfare groups that it would have devastating impacts on transgender youth. Hundreds of college athletes have also urged the NCAA to refuse to hold championships in states that enact such bans. In this picture, an unidentified 12-year-old transgender swimmer waits to practice in Utah, where a similar measure has been passed by in the state house 


Hutchinson approved Arkansas' measure despite objections from medical and child-welfare groups that it would have devastating impacts on transgender youth. Hundreds of college athletes have also urged the NCAA to refuse to hold championships in states that enact such bans. 


'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,' Hutchinson said in a statement released by his office. 


'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.' 

The divisive issue has been a focal point for both the current and previous White House administrations.  

President Joe Biden signed an executive order on his first day in office prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity in school sports and elsewhere. Previously, former president Donald Trump had rolled back protections for transgender people while in office. 

Republicans in at least 20 state legislatures have been pushing for similar bans this year. Mississippi's governor signed a prohibition into law earlier this month. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem had initially said she would sign similar legislation sent to her but has since pushed for changing it to exclude college sports. Arkansas' law covers K-12 as well as collegiate sports. 

The head of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest LGBTQ rights groups, called Hutchinson's decision '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,' Alphonso David, the group's president, said in a statement.

Only one state, Idaho, has enacted a law curtailing transgender students' sports participation, and that 2020 measure is blocked by a court ruling as a lawsuit plays out. Opponents have not said whether they plan legal action to block Arkansas' ban. 

'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.

On his first day in office, President Joe Biden signed an executive order prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity in school sports and elsewhere. Former president Donald Trump had rolled back protections for transgender people while in office. Last month, the Biden administration withdrew government support for a federal lawsuit in Connecticut that seeks to ban transgender athletes from participating in girls' school sports

On his first day in office, President Joe Biden signed an executive order prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity in school sports and elsewhere. Former president Donald Trump had rolled back protections for transgender people while in office. Last month, the Biden administration withdrew government support for a federal lawsuit in Connecticut that seeks to ban transgender athletes from participating in girls' school sports

The Human Rights Campaign slammed Hutchinson's 'eagerness to sign this discriminatory legislation.' Arkansas' law, if it isn't blocked by a legal challenge, would take effect this summer. Under the new law, a student or school who suffers 'direct or indirect harm' could take a school to court for violating the ban

The Human Rights Campaign slammed Hutchinson's 'eagerness to sign this discriminatory legislation.' Arkansas' law, if it isn't blocked by a legal challenge, would take effect this summer. Under the new law, a student or school who suffers 'direct or indirect harm' could take a school to court for violating the ban

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem (pictured) had initially said she would sign similar legislation sent to her but has since pushed for changing it to exclude college sports. Arkansas' law covers K-12 as well as collegiate sports

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem (pictured) had initially said she would sign similar legislation sent to her but has since pushed for changing it to exclude college sports. Arkansas' law covers K-12 as well as collegiate sports

Idaho Governor Brad Little has signed into law two anti-transgender bills, one of which would prevent transgender girls and women from competing in women's sports. The Republican governor approved legislation that prohibits transgender people from changing the sex listed on birth certificates. Those laws are now being tied up by lawsuits in an ongoing legal battle

Idaho Governor Brad Little has signed into law two anti-transgender bills, one of which would prevent transgender girls and women from competing in women's sports. The Republican governor approved legislation that prohibits transgender people from changing the sex listed on birth certificates. Those laws are now being tied up by lawsuits in an ongoing legal battle

Last month, the Biden administration withdrew government support for a federal lawsuit in Connecticut that seeks to ban transgender athletes from participating in girls' high school sports.

Connecticut allows high school athletes to compete in sports according to their gender identity. The lawsuit was filed a year ago by several cisgender runners who argue they have been deprived of wins, state titles and athletic opportunities by being forced to compete against two transgender sprinters.

The Justice Department and the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights withdrew their support for the case ahead of a hearing on a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.   

In March of 2020, president Donald Trump's Attorney General, William Barr, signed what is known as a statement of interest, arguing against the policy of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, the board that oversees the state's high school athletic competitions. 

In this Friday, February 14, 2020 photo, Canton High School's Chelsea Mitchell, left, runs to beat Terry Miller, center, of Bloomfield, in the CIAC Class S track and field championships at Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven, Conn. center. Between 2017 and 2019, transgender sprinters Miller and Andraya Yearwood combined to win 15 championship races, prompting a lawsuit on behalf of four cisgender girls

In this Friday, February 14, 2020 photo, Canton High School's Chelsea Mitchell, left, runs to beat Terry Miller, center, of Bloomfield, in the CIAC Class S track and field championships at Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven, Conn. center. Between 2017 and 2019, transgender sprinters Miller and Andraya Yearwood combined to win 15 championship races, prompting a lawsuit on behalf of four cisgender girls

Connecticut allows high school athletes to compete in sports according to their gender identity. The lawsuit was filed a year ago by several cisgender runners who argue they have been deprived of wins, state titles and athletic opportunities by being forced to compete against two transgender sprinters. The lawsuit was filed in February of 2020 on behalf of three runners: Selina Soule (center), of Glastonbury High School, Alanna Smith (left), of Danbury High School, and Chelsea Mitchell (right), of Canton High School,

Connecticut allows high school athletes to compete in sports according to their gender identity. The lawsuit was filed a year ago by several cisgender runners who argue they have been deprived of wins, state titles and athletic opportunities by being forced to compete against two transgender sprinters. The lawsuit was filed in February of 2020 on behalf of three runners: Selina Soule (center), of Glastonbury High School, Alanna Smith (left), of Danbury High School, and Chelsea Mitchell (right), of Canton High School,

Barr's statement came in response to a federal lawsuit filed in February of 2020 on behalf of three runners: Selina Soule, of Glastonbury High School, Alanna Smith, of Danbury High School, and Chelsea Mitchell, of Canton High School, all of whom are represented by the conservative nonprofit organization Alliance Defending Freedom. 

That filing focused mainly on two transgender sprinters, Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood, who frequently outperformed their cisgender competitors. 

In an interesting twist to the debate, Mitchell actually defeated Miller for the Connecticut Class S 55-meter dash title in February of 2020. 

Previously, the three plaintiffs frequently lost to Miller and, often, Yearwood as well. For instance, Mitchell finished third in the 2019 state championship in the girls 55-meter indoor track competition behind Miller and Yearwood. 

'Our dream is not to come in second or third place, but to win fair and square,' Mitchell previously said. 'All we're asking for is a fair chance.'

They argue in the lawsuit that allowing athletes with male anatomy to compete has deprived them of track titles and scholarship opportunities. 

'Mentally and physically, we know the outcome before the race even starts,' said Smith, who is the daughter of former Major League pitcher Lee Smith. 

'That biological unfairness doesn't go away because of what someone believes about gender identity. All girls deserve the chance to compete on a level playing field.'

Canton High School girl Chelsea Mitchell (left) won the Class S 55-meter dash title in February of 2020 with her time of 7.18 seconds, beating Bloomfield's Terry Miller, a transgender runner

Canton High School girl Chelsea Mitchell (left) won the Class S 55-meter dash title in February of 2020 with her time of 7.18 seconds, beating Bloomfield's Terry Miller, a transgender runner

Arkansas' new law is among several targeting transgender people advancing through the majority-Republican Legislature this year. Another bill on Hutchinson's desk would allow doctors to refuse to treat someone for moral or religious reasons, a measure opponents says would allow LGBT patients to be turned away.

A final vote is also expected next week on legislation that would ban gender confirmation surgery or treatment for minors.

In this February 7, 2019 file photo, Cromwell High School transgender athlete Andraya Yearwood rests after completing a race during a track meet at Hillhouse High School in New Haven, Connecticut. Yearwood was at the center of the debate in Connecticut over transgender athletes competing with their chosen gender identity

In this February 7, 2019 file photo, Cromwell High School transgender athlete Andraya Yearwood rests after completing a race during a track meet at Hillhouse High School in New Haven, Connecticut. Yearwood was at the center of the debate in Connecticut over transgender athletes competing with their chosen gender identity 

The measures have won support as a hate crimes bill backed by Hutchinson has stalled, facing conservative resistance. The current version of the bill would impose additional penalties for committing a crime against someone because several characteristics, including gender identity or sexual orientation.

Arkansas is one of three states without a hate crimes law.

When asked earlier this week about the message the measures targeting transgender people send to the LGBT community, Hutchinson said he hoped to send a welcoming message by enacting a hate crimes law.

'I want the message to be that we want to make sure that everyone is protected, that everyone has equal treatment under the laws,' Hutchinson told reporters Tuesday. 'That is very, very important, whether it's transgender or whether it is some other characteristic.'

Hutchinson also signed the bill four years after opposing legislation that would have prohibited people from using restrooms in government buildings that do not match their gender at birth. That measure, which never advanced out of committee, had drawn opposition from tourism groups who said it would harm the state's economy.

A person holds up a flag during rally to protest the Trump administration's reported transgender proposal to narrow the definition of gender to male or female at birth, at City Hall in New York in 2018. Trump's administration also backed a federal lawsuit that sought to ban transgender athletes from competing in scholastic sports in Connecticut

A person holds up a flag during rally to protest the Trump administration's reported transgender proposal to narrow the definition of gender to male or female at birth, at City Hall in New York in 2018. Trump's administration also backed a federal lawsuit that sought to ban transgender athletes from competing in scholastic sports in Connecticut 

2 comments:

  1. Folks, it's all about divide and conquer.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks god that in the animal world there are no transgendered entities

    ReplyDelete