The governor of Oklahoma signed a law banning transgender girls from participating in school sports, surrounded by cisgender girls while a transgender woman stood outside his office protesting.
The “Save Women’s Sports Act” will require parents to sign an affidavit that states the sex assigned at birth to their child as a prerequisite to participating in school sports. The law also allows the families of cisgender student-athletes to sue school districts if they are forced to compete against all girls instead of just cisgender girls.
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The bill was passed by the Republican-controlled Oklahoma House and Senate mostly along party lines and affects both high school and college athletics.
“When it comes to sports and athletics, girls should compete against girls,” Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) said as he signed the bill. “Boys should compete against boys.”
He was surrounded by cisgender girls as he signed the bill, some holding signs that said “SAVE WOMEN’S SPORTS,” even though it’s not clear that women’s sports in the state need saving. The Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activity Association (OSSAA) has allowed transgender student-athletes to participate in school sports since 2015 if they meet certain requirements, but a spokesperson for the organization said that no transgender girl has even made a request to play school sports.
Outside of Stitt’s office, trans activist Cara Kleber, 26, held a sign that said “How does it feel bullying kids needing support?”
“They’re not going to keep trans kids from playing sports, having fun or living their lives,” Kleber told the AP. “What they are going to do with this bill is tell them they’re not invited in spaces and amongst everyone else, that they’re not equal, that they’re not loved, that they’re not cared for.”
Oklahoma is now the 13th state to pass a ban on transgender girls’ participation in school sports in the recent wave of anti-transgender legislation.
Federal lawsuits have already been filed in other states alleging that the bans violate transgender students’ rights under Title IX, which bans discrimination on the basis of sex in education. The transgender sports bans are written to separate students on the basis of sex (with Oklahoma even requiring an affidavit as proof of sex) and single out some people for discrimination on that basis.
The Biden administration has already put its weight behind one such lawsuit in West Virginia.