On March 25, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) signed a bill into law that will ban transgender girls and women from participating in K-12 and collegiate level sports that align with their gender identity, The Hill reported.
Hutchinson's approval came despite criticism from child-welfare and medical groups that argued the law would negatively affect transgender youth.
"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 wrote in a press release. "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."
Similar measures are being pushed in 20 state legislatures.
Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Alphonso David issued a statement criticizing Hutchinson's move. In part, David said, "Governor Hutchinson's eagerness to sign this discriminatory legislation is 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. Transgender kids are kids who just want to play, and they deserve that chance."
In South Dakota, Republican Gov. Kristi Noem has refused to sign House Bill 1217, a bill that would ban transgender athletes from playing sports in schools and collegesbut it's for financial reasons, LGBTQ Nation reported. Noem only opposed the legislation because she thought it shouldn't ban trans women from college sports. Utah's governor has also not signed a similar measure, according to HRC.
UPDATE: On March 26, Hutchinson also signed into law legislation allowing doctors to refuse to treat someone because of religious or moral objectionsa move opponents have said will give providers broad powers to turn away LGBTQ+ patients and others, PBS reported.