On Thursday, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a bill prohibiting transgender female-identifying athletes from competing in women’s sports.

The new legislation, which aims to shield girls and women from competing against biological males and maintain the prestige of female sports, comes amid a drive by state legislatures to pass similar safeguards.

Hutchinson signed SB354, the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, into law today.

Hutchinson said, “On this subject, I have researched the law and heard from hundreds of constituents. As a fan of women’s sports, from basketball to soccer, and many others in which women participate successfully, I signed the bill.”

In a tweet, Hutchinson said. “This law clearly states that when a sport is planned for women’s competition, female students should not be required to compete against a male student. As I previously mentioned, I agree with the spirit of this rule. This will aid in the promotion and maintenance of equality in women’s sporting events.”

According to The Associated Press, Republican politicians in at least 20 states have proposed similar bills this year.

Activists and groups like The National Collegiate Athletic Association are reportedly lobbying these states to stop enacting such bans.

A coalition of state senators introduced similar bills in the North Carolina General Assembly earlier this week, citing “inherent disparities between men and women” as the rationale for restricting biological males from engaging in women’s sports.

Part of the bill reads: “Puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, on the other hand, have little impact on the advantages that natural testosterone gives to male athletes. … Many sports federation transgender regulations require a reduction in testosterone levels, but this is insufficient to eradicate or minimize the male advantage in any significant way.

“The new testosterone suppression regimen would not exclude transgender women from competing in female sports categories. Rather, it seems that transgender women maintain the male performance advantage, which is still important.” 

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signed a bill on March 11 prohibiting biological males from playing in women’s sports.

On Twitter, Reeves wrote, “I never imagined dealing with this, but POTUS left us with no choice.

“One of his first actions was to sign an executive order allowing children to be transgendered. As a result, I proudly signed the Mississippi Fairness Act today, which ensures that young girls are not required to compete with biological males.”

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