Oklahoma and Arizona, which enacted its own law later Wednesday, join three other GOP-led states that have established similar bans this year.
In pushing such measures, conservatives have argued that transgender women and girls have physical advantages over cisgender women and girls in sports, though a 2017 report found “no direct or consistent research” on any such advantage.
“When it comes to sports and athletics, girls should compete against girls. Boys should compete against boys. And let’s be very clear: that’s all this bill says,” Stitt said at a signing ceremony. The bill, however, will now prohibit some girls in the state from competing against other girls.
Like other governors who have enacted such bans, Stitt was surrounded by athletes from around the state during the ceremony, with girls brandishing signs that read “Save Women’s Sports.” In justifying the need for the law, the governor invoked University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, who has come to personify the debate around trans women’s participation in sports.
“We all saw the imagery with the Penn swimmer, and we don’t want that to happen to this young lady right here beside me when she grows up and gets into high school, and we’re making that stand today in the state of Oklahoma,” he said.
Opponents of Oklahoma’s law immediately condemned Stitt. The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma said he “has sent a clear message to Oklahoma’s vulnerable transgender youth that they are not welcome or accepted in our state.”
“Ultimately, SB 2 violates the United States Constitution and federal civil rights law, puts Oklahoma at risk of losing federal funding, and harms transgender youth, all to solve a problem that does not exist,” said Tamya Cox-Touré, the group’s executive director, in a statement.
Law takes effect immediately
Oklahoma’s Republican-controlled legislature gave final passage to SB 2, dubbed the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” last week and the law took effect immediately following the governor’s approval.
The legislation requires sports teams at Oklahoma’s public schools and colleges, public charter schools and private schools whose teams compete against those at public schools to designate athletic teams as being either co-ed or based on “biological sex.”
“Athletic teams designated for ‘females’, ‘women’ or ‘girls’ shall not be open to students of the male sex,” the law states. The legislation requires parents of students 18 and under to sign an affidavit “acknowledging the biological sex of the student at birth.” Students 18 and older need to sign the affidavit themselves.
While sex is a category that refers broadly to physiology, a person’s gender is an innate sense of identity. The factors that go into determining the sex listed on a birth certificate may include anatomy, genetics and hormones, and there is broad natural variation in each of these categories. For this…