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Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Photo: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) signed a law Thursday barring transgender women and girls from participating in school sports that align with their gender identity.

Why it matters: Republicans in at least 25 states have introduced more than 60 bills targeting trans youth since January. Arkansas is the latest state to pursue school sports as a vehicle for anti-trans legislation.

Details: The ban covers both K-12 and collegiate sports, and will take effect this summer if it's not blocked by a legal challenge.

  • Under the new law, any student or school that suffers "direct or indirect harm" can sue for violating the ban, AP reports.

What they're saying: The law will help "promote and maintain fairness in women's sporting events," Hutchinson said in a statement.

  • Republicans have argued that trans women and girls have an unfair advantage in sports, but little evidence suggests that trans women hold a competitive advantage over their cisgender counterparts, according to Axios' Jeff Tracy.
  • "Banning trans athletes is cruel and wrong, but it’s also illegal," the American Civil Liberties Union tweeted after the bill became law.

Medical and child-welfare groups say the measure could cause long-lasting damage to trans youth, per AP.

The big picture: Significant research has found that athletic participation can offer trans youth a number of benefits, including higher self-esteem and fewer depressive symptoms.

  • Hundreds of college athletes have pushed the NCAA to turn away from holding championships in states with such bans, per AP.

What’s next: Several other bills on trans youth participation in sports and access to health care are up for hearings in the coming days and months.

Go deeper

Mar 24, 2021 - Axios Tampa Bay

Florida trans community speaks out against youth sports bill

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Absolute fear — that's what Faith Muller, the founder of LGBTQ support organization PFLAG Riverview, sees on the faces of families and kids in the LGBTQ community when laws like House Bill 1475 are proposed, she told Axios.

The latest: The bill, which would ban transgender girls from participating in youth sports starting July 1, just passed through its education subcommittee and is headed to the floor for a vote.

Updated Mar 23, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on systemic racism in sports

On Tuesday, March 23, Axios hosted a Hard Truths virtual event on systemic racism in sports. Axios Sports Editor Kendall Baker and Axios Today host Niala Boodhoo led one-on-one conversations with ABC/ESPN analyst Jalen Rose and Los Angeles Chargers running back Justin Jackson.

Jalen Rose discussed the intersections of race and power within sports, from athletes with fans to owners and coaches with players. He also highlighted the educational work done with his school, Jalen Rose Leadership Academy.

  • On the power of "fearless" youth athletes today, and the power of having control over the narrative: “[Muhammed Ali] would have been the first billion-dollar athlete. So with money comes power. It gives you an opportunity for ownership, it gives you a chance to control your narrative. That’s what players today have, along with social media.”
  • On the impact of systemic racism in sports off the field: "It doesn't start coaching. It starts with ownership...You talked about the seven [Black] coaches in the NBA. There aren't seven Black owners in both [the NBA and the NFL] combined."

Justin Jackson discussed racial inequity in sports after 2020, a year of where leagues, teams, and athletes took public stances on social justice and police brutality.

  • On the Los Angeles Chargers' decision not to play a scrimmage in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020: "We all love playing [football]. People love watching. But in that moment in time, we wanted to use that platform to illuminate the issues that we face outside of sports."
  • Why sports stars and athletes are uniquely positioned to discuss social justice issues: "We have a diverse group of people that follow us and listen to us. Getting those people to know and understand where we come from and our background and the things that we experience I think is so powerful because then they have that relatability, even if they haven't experienced it themselves."

Axios Senior Vice President Kristin Burkhalter hosted a View from the Top Segment with LeagueApps president Jeremy Goldberg, who focused on how systemic racism impacts sports in youth leagues, and the need for lasting solutions around equity.

  • "If playing sports can create so many advantages and benefits in life when a large number of kids don't get those benefits, it's not just an inequity, it's a form of advantage. It's a form of privilege, a sports privilege...We need to work hard to make sure that other kids and communities have the same benefits as we do. That's ultimately how we all win."

Thank you LeagueApps for sponsoring this event.

Biden says he'll make Supreme Court pick by end of February

President Biden speaks on the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden on Thursday said he will announce the nominee for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer's replacement by the end of February.

Driving the news: Biden also affirmed that he will nominate a Black woman to replace Breyer, saying "it's long overdue."