Republican Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed the “Save Women’s Sports Act” into law Wednesday to ban biological men from competing in women’s sports.
Female athletes and his fellow lawmakers gathered around Stitt’s desk in the Oklahoma Capitol’s Blue Room to sign S.B. 2 into law, which states that “‘athletic teams designated for females, women, or girls shall not be open to students of the male sex.’ The governor said passing the legislation “is just common sense.”
“What we’re trying to accomplish here is very, very simple. We are protecting women’s sports,” the governor said. “We’re ensuring a level playing field for female athletes who work hard, who train hard, who are committed to their team, who have dreams to be #1 in their sport, who deserve a fair competition.”
Stitt said biological men have “physical advantages” over women in a variety of sports due to their larger muscle mass, lungs and wider airways. He vowed to “stand” and “protect” female athletes from unfair disadvantages.
“So how is it fair for female track athletes or swimmers who have been training since they were 12-years-old to lose in a high school competition to a biological male? It’s not; it’s simply not fair. And it will not happen in the state of Oklahoma.”
The bill overwhelmingly passed the Oklahoma Senate Wednesday with a 37-7 vote. (RELATED: Three More States Consider Bills Banning Males From Girls’ Sports)
Oklahoma is among 14 states enacting restrictions on transgender athletics, along with Arizona, Kentucky and Utah. Republican Utah Gov. Spencer Cox initially vetoed his state’s legislation banning biological men from women’s athletics, but lawmakers overrode the governor’s decision Friday after flipping 10 votes in the House and 5 in the Senate.
Republican Oklahoma state Sen. Michael Bergstrom, the bill’s sponsor, reiterated the governor’s statement that biological males have an unfair advantage when competing against female athletes.
“We just saw an NCAA championship go to a biological male,” state Sen. Michael Bergstrom said, referencing University of Pennsylvania transgender swimmer Lia Thomas. “The women that competed in that were angry that this was allowed to happen.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Oklahoma said the legislation creates “baseless fears” about transgender athletics and sends a message that transgender people “are not welcome or accepted in our State.”
Similar pieces of legislation have been introduced in 25 states, with several grassroots organizations like the American Principles Project pushing the agenda, the Associated Press reported.
State lawmakers took action on women’s sports in the aftermath of Thomas, a biological male, winning the 500-freestyle at the NCAA Swimming Championships.