Oklahoma Governor Kevin State signed a bill Wednesday that would ban transgender girls and women from playing on women’s sports teams, cementing the state as the third this year — and thirteenth nationwide — to enact such a measure.
where he signedWomen’s Sports Preservation LawStitt was surrounded by young girls, athletes and other conservative lawmakers holding signs that read ‘Save Women’s Sports.’ He said enacting the measure was “just common sense.”
When it comes to sports and athletics: girls have to compete with girls. “Boys should be competing against boys,” said State, the Republican. “Let’s be very clear – that’s all this law says.”
“We protect women’s sports. We ensure equal opportunity for female athletes who work hard to train hard, who are committed to their team, who dream of being No. 1 in their sport, and who deserve fair competition.” “The truth is that men are biologically different from women.”
The governor’s signing of the measure comes amid a nationwide culture war over LGBT issues, particularly transgender issues.
Between January 1 and March 15, state lawmakers proposed 238 standard bills that would limit the rights of LGBT people — or more than three a day — while specifically targeting about half of them transgender people, according to an analysis NBC News reports data from the American Civil Liberties Union and the LGBT advocacy group Freedom for All Americans.
Just this week — and after a protest from LGBT advocates, the White House and Hollywood — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill banning “separation instructions… about sexual orientation or gender identity” in “kindergarten through third grade or in an age-inappropriate manner.” or not commensurate with growth.”
This year’s historic tally quickly follows what some advocates have described as “the worst year in recent history of LGBTQ legislative attacks,” when 191 bills were proposed last year.
Measures that would prevent transgender students from competing on school sports teams that match their gender identity have been among the most successful anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in recent years, becoming 13 laws nationwide.
This year, along with Oklahoma, Utah and South Dakota, he enacted cross-sport laws. Utah enacted its version when state lawmakers overridden Governor Spencer Cox’s veto.
Not all efforts to enact sports bans have been successful.
Last year, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, a Republican, opposed the sports bill, citing a “lack of evidence” of the danger transgender athletes pose to women’s sports.
Indiana’s Republican governor, Eric Holcomb, vetoed his state’s version of the legislation this month, saying it “fails” to provide consistent statewide policy for what he called “equity in K-12 sports.” However, Indiana lawmakers have enough votes to override the veto and enact the law, although they have yet to move to do so.
Supporters of banning trans sports, including State, say they protect justice in women’s sports, arguing that transgender girls and women have inherent advantages over gender-compliant girls and women.
Critics say the measures are less about protecting women’s sports than about “solving a problem that doesn’t exist”.
The Oklahoma Scale is “one of many bills that we’ve seen attacking the state’s ‘trans and non-binary communities,’ while ignoring the real issues of gender equality in sports when it comes to funding, resources, equal pay, and more,” Tamiya Cox-Torrey said, Executive Director of the ACLU of Oklahoma, in a statement on Wednesday. “Promoting unfounded fears about transgender athletes does nothing to address those real problems.”
Cox Touré continued, “Transgender people belong everywhere, but with one flick of the pen and public display, Governor State sent a clear message to vulnerable transgender youth in Oklahoma that they are not welcome or accepted in our state.”
The controversy over transgender athletes has also been pushed into the nation’s culture wars after the success of University of Pennsylvania transgender swimmer Leah Thomas.
Thomas became the first moving athlete to win an NCAA championship this month, finishing first in the 500-yard freestyle at the Division I Finals in Atlanta, after a successful season with the Penn Women’s Swimming and Diving Team.
Without mentioning her name, State referred to Thomas in his decision to sign the bill.
“We’ve all seen the pictures with a Pennsylvania swimmer and we don’t want that to happen to this young woman right next to me when she grows up and goes to high school,” he said, pointing to one of the young girls surrounding him. “We’re making that stand today in Oklahoma.”
The law went into effect immediately after State’s signature.
However, it can face legal challenges. In July, a federal court temporarily blocked the West Virginia version of the law from operating after the ACLU lifted lawsuit against it.