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Arkansas governor signs transgender sports ban

Arkansas governor signs transgender sports ban
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Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) on Thursday signed a law that will ban transgender girls and women from participating in K-12 and collegiate level sports that align with their gender identity.

Hutchinson's approval comes despite criticism from child-welfare and medical groups that argued the law would negatively affect transgender youth. It also makes Arkansas the second state to approve a transgender sports ban this year, according to The Associated Press.

“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.”

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Nearly 20 state legislatures have pushed for similar bans led by Republicans this year, the AP noted. Earlier this month Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) signed a bill prohibiting transgender athletes from participating in women’s sports in public schools.

The law has faced pushback from multiple LGBT rights groups. Human Rights Campaign, one of the nation’s largest LGBT advocacy groups, noted that the ban will not just affect the transgender athletes, but all of Arkansas's community.

“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, according to the AP.

Earlier this week Hutchinson acknowledged that he did not want the law to result in transgender people and the LGBT community being targeted, according to the news outlet. He also stated that he hoped to enact a hate crimes law to show his support for the community.

“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 AP. “That is very, very important, whether it’s transgender or whether it is some other characteristic.”