Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today said she supported legislation to prohibit transgender women (as demonstrated by their original birth certificate) from participating in women’s sports from kindergarten through college.

I’ve asked her office if she knows of any transgender women participating in Arkansas athletics.


UPDATE: Here’s the office’s non sequitur non-response.

“What this legislation is designed to do is ensure women and girls have the opportunities from the start as opposed to having to go to court. We will refer you to the Arkansas Department of Education and the Arkansas Activities Association.”

She pitches the bill as maintaining a “level playing field” for women.


It is another piece of evidence of the nationalization of her race for governor in 2022. Said her release:

During his first days in office, President Biden signed Executive Order 13988, entitled Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation. By signing this executive action, the Biden Administration signaled that it intends to require schools to allow biological boys who self-identify as girls onto girls’ sports teams.

By creating protected space for girls and women’s sports, the legislation proposed by Rutledge’s office provides opportunities for girls and women to demonstrate their skill, strength and athletic abilities while also providing them with opportunities to obtain recognition, accolades, college scholarships and the many other long-term benefits that flow from athletic achievement.

The proposed bill allows anyone who, as a result of a violation of the legislation, is deprived of athletic opportunities or suffers any other harm to seek a court order stopping the violation along with damages and attorney’s fees in a lawsuit against any Arkansas school that violates the legislation.

The lead sponsors of the bill are Senator Missy Irvin of Mountain View and Representative DeAnn Vaught of Horatio.

A proposed constitutional amendment filed earlier also would require all school athletic teams to be designated based on “biological sex.” No women on men’s teams either.


A UCLA Law School study concludes about .6 percent of adults in the U.S. are transgender or about 13,400 in Arkansas. The same study says about 1,850 Arkansans aged 18-24 are transgender.  How many participate in athletics isn’t known.

Developing federal case law could raise legal questions about discriminating against transgender people, but it is a popular hot-button topic among conservative Republicans. The tiny minority of transgender people are a convenient foil in the larger battle against equal treatment under the law based on sexual orientation.

The ACLU, which is challenging a similar law in Idaho, distributed “myths” about such legislation that addresses Rutledge’s talking points today.

Many who oppose the inclusion of trans athletes erroneously claim that allowing trans athletes to compete will harm cisgender women. This divide and conquer tactic gets it exactly wrong. Excluding women who are trans hurts all women. It invites gender policing that could subject any woman to invasive tests or accusations of being “too masculine” or “too good” at their sport to be a “real” woman. In Idaho, the ACLU represents two young women, one trans and one cis, both of whom are hurt by the law that was passed targeting trans athletes.

Further, this myth reinforces stereotypes that women are weak and in need of protection. Politicians have used the “protection” trope time and time again, including in 2016 when they tried banning trans people from public restrooms by creating the debunked “bathroom predator” myth. The real motive is never about protection — it’s about excluding trans people from yet another public space. The arena of sports is no different.

On the other hand, including trans athletes will promote values of non-discrimination and inclusion among all student athletes. As longtime coach and sports policy expert Helen Carroll explains, efforts to exclude subsets of girls from sports, “can undermine team unity and also encourage divisiveness by policing who is ‘really’ a girl.” Dr. Mary Fry adds that youth derive the most benefits from athletics when they are exposed to caring environments where teammates are supported by each other and by coaches. Banning some girls from athletics because they are transgender undermines this cohesion and compromises the wide-ranging benefits that youth get from sports.

The ACLU report explains that trans girls don’t enjoy advantages and that, simply, trans girls ARE girls.


Here’s a rundown of the varying state and federal rules on transgender athletes. The NCAA, for example, allows transgender women to compete on women’s teams after a year of testosterone suppression treatment.