Bans on transgender athletes in female sports to be defended by Arkansas, Mississippi and other GOP states

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Arkansas, Mississippi and other red states that have taken legislative action to limit transgender athletes in girls’ sports say they are ready to defend their laws in court.

“Mississippi passed a law this year based on the basic premise that girls, and only girls, should play in girls’ sports. The ink wasn’t even dry from Governor Reeves’ signature before Sports Illustrated was reporting that the ACLU was preparing to sue and the NCAA threatened to take away championship competitions from our State,” Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch said in a statement to Fox News. “When the Fairness Act becomes law on July 1, I will be ready to defend this law and to defend the right of Mississippi’s girls to compete fairly.”

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge also delivered a statement to Fox News. It reads: “Here is my message to President Biden if he decides to sue the State of Arkansas to stop us from implementing the GIRLS Act which protects the opportunities of our young girls: Bring it on, Biden! I will wholeheartedly defend and win to ensure girls in Arkansas have a fair playing field to succeed.

On his first day in office, President Biden signed an executive order aimed at “preventing and combating discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation” and called on schools across the country to allow transgender athletes to participate in the sport of their gender identity. 

Biden’s Justice Department vowed to “fully enforce” protections for transgender people. “The Department of Justice intends to fully enforce our civil rights statutes to protect transgender individuals,” a Justice Department spokesperson told Fox News.

Biologically male athletes who identify as transgender will no longer be able to compete in female sports in Mississippi following Republican Gov. Tate Reeves’ March statewide ban in public schools.

Gov. Tate Reeves speaks about selecting Burl Cain, the former warden of the Louisiana State Penitentiary, commonly known as Angola, as the new commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Correction, during Reeves’ daily coronavirus update for media in Jackson, Miss., Wednesday, May 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Mississippi Republicans have said the law, which will affect state schools and universities, is a necessary response to Biden’s executive order calling on schools across the country to allow students to participate in sports under their chosen gender identity.

The legislation, known as the Mississippi Fairness Act, is just one of two dozen other bills popping up around the country as some conservatives fear allowing biological male athletes to participate in female sports could strip biological females of opportunities to fairly compete.

Arkansas became the second state this year to ban transgender athletes from participating in sporting events Thursday.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act in March after the measure passed through the state House with overwhelming support.

The bill bans transgender women and girls from being allowed to participate in female sporting events.

“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 said in a statement. “This will help promote and maintain fairness in women’s sporting events.”

Fox News’ Caitlin McFall and Morgan Phillips contributed to this report.

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