Last week Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee both signed bills into law that protect women’s rights by preventing biological males from participating in women’s sports.
Arkansas’s law opens by stating,
“According to the United States Supreme Court in United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515, 533 (1996), there are “inherent differences between men and women,” and these differences “remain cause for celebration, but not for denigration of the members of either sex or for artificial constraints on an individual’s opportunity”; (2) These “inherent differences” range from chromosomal and hormonal differences to physiological differences.”
The law provides evidence from several studies, articles, and court cases to show that biological males have a physiological advantage in athletics over females, even after taking cross-sex hormones for 12 months.
Interscholastic, intercollegiate, intramural, or club sports are required to be designated as either men’s, women’s, or coed. If a sport is designated for females, the law prohibits biological male students from participating.
Included in the text of the law is the assertion:
“Having separate sex-specific teams furthers efforts to promote sex equality and accomplishes this aim by providing opportunities for female athletes to demonstrate their skill, strength, and athletic abilities while also providing them with opportunities to obtain recognition and accolades, college scholarships, and the numerous other long-term benefits that flow from success in athletic endeavors.”
Upon signing SB 354 into law, Gov. Hutchinson said,
“I have studied the law and heard from hundreds of constituents on this issue. I signed the law as a fan of women’s sports from basketball to soccer and including many others in which women compete successfully. 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. 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.”
If a school violates the law, women are allowed to take legal action and receive damages.
Critics claim the bill is discriminatory and harms transgender students. Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, claimed that Gov. Hutchinson 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. The fact that neither Governor Hutchinson nor the legislators who voted to pass this bill have named a single example of what they are legislating against underscores that this is simply a politically motivated bill for the sake of discrimination itself. Governors who make their state more discriminatory often suffer the consequences and damage their state in the process and Governor Hutchinson is no different.”
Arkansas Democratic Rep. Tippi McCullough said, “It’s extremely hard to be a kid, and if you’re a transgender kid, your life’s even harder. Sports gives kids a place to belong, a place to be included, a place to succeed or learn to deal with setbacks and work to overcome them.”
Tennessee Gov. Lee tweeted upon signing his state’s bill, “I signed the bill to preserve women’s athletics and ensure fair competition. This legislation responds to damaging federal policies that stand in opposition to the years of progress made under Title IX and I commend members of the General Assembly for their bipartisan work.”
Lee said that allowing transgender males to participate in women’s sports would “put a glass ceiling back over women that hasn’t been there in some time.”
Idaho was the first state to pass a bill preserving women’s sports for biological females. Now many other states are considering similar legislation, particularly after President Joe Biden signed an executive order permitting transgender students to participate in the sport of their desired gender identity.
Arkansas and Tennessee have stated what was once common knowledge and accepted science: There are biological differences between males and females. These laws do not deny transgender athletes the right to participate in sports; they can participate in the sport aligning with their sex. What these laws do is allow females to have equal opportunity in sports and not be placed at a competitive disadvantage.
By allowing biological males to compete in women’s sports, girls such as Selina Soule are sidelined. Soule missed out on advancing in the New England girls’ track regionals because two transgender athletes won first and second place. In order for women to truly have equal opportunity, they must have an equal playing field.
During the infamous steroid era of Major League Baseball, many players took performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), giving them an unfair advantage over other male players. That left a blot on both the game’s credibility and the reputations of those players who chose to cheat. Most agreed then — and can agree now —that taking PEDs is cheating. It harms the sport and those who compete honorably.
Men not only have more testosterone than women but, as the Arkansas law states, men often have denser, stronger bones, tendons, and ligaments, as well as “larger hearts, greater lung volume per body mass, a higher red blood cell count, and higher hemoglobin,” among other advantages.
It is not only unfair, but unsafe for biological males to compete against women, especially in contact sports. These laws are not discriminatory. They prevent discrimination against women.