Republican Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt was surrounded by supportive female athletes and lawmakers on Wednesday as he signed the state’s “Save Women’s Sports Act” into law. The new statute bans biological males from participating in organized women’s sports in the state.
The law provides that “athletic teams designated for females, women, or girls shall not be open to students of the male sex.’
Gov. Stitt said that the law is “very simple” and “just common sense.” He said the state is protecting women’s sports by “ensuring a level playing field” for females who work and train hard for themselves and their teams and “deserve a fair competition.”
The governor said that it is unfair to permit biological males to exploit their “physical advantages” because of greater muscle mass and larger lungs. He said that allowing males to compete against “female track athletes or swimmers who have been training since they were 12-years-old” will not happen in Oklahoma.
The bill was passed by a 37-7 vote in the Oklahoma state Senate a week before Still signed it into law.
Republican state Sen. Micheal Bergstrom sponsored the bill in the state legislature and echoed the governor’s statements about the unfairness of permitting transgender persons to compete against females. Bergstrom said that the women who competed and lost in the recent NCAA swimming championships to biological male Lia Thomas were “angry this was allowed to happen.”
Opposing the new law, the Oklahoma chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said that the statute “creates baseless fears” about transgender athletic participation. It added that the law tells transgendered people that they are “not welcome or accepted in our state.”
The new law makes Oklahoma one of 14 states that restricts transgender athletic participation.
Last week, Utah overrode a veto by Republican Governor Spencer Cox to enact a statute that stops men from participating in women’s sports. The Utah legislature saw more than a dozen lawmakers change their initial votes to defeat the veto.
Similar legislation has been introduced in as many as 25 other states.