Alabama governor Kay Ivey has signed a bill barring transgender athletes from competing in collegiate sports that do not correspond to the gender they were assigned at birth, expanding legislation passed last year that introduced similar regulations for K-12 athletic participation.
“Look, if you are a biological male, you are not going to be competing in women’s and girls’ sports in Alabama. It’s about fairness, plain and simple,” Ivey, a Republican, said in a statement.
Alabama is at least the 20th state to impose restrictions on transgender athletes, whether at the collegiate or K-12 level, according to reporting from Al.com. The news organization noted that the new bill passed by a vote of 26 to 4 in the Alabama Senate and 83 to 5 in the House of Representatives, with more than a dozen House members abstaining.
While Ivey and other Republicans have argued that regulation of transgender athletic participation is needed to ensure fairness in competition, critics say such legislation is unnecessary, harmful and rooted in bigotry toward the LGBTQ+ community.
Legislation regarding transgender athletes has picked up in the last year following the success of NCAA swimmer Lia Thomas, a transgender competitor who went from a middling talent on the men’s team at the University of Pennsylvania to a national champion on the women’s team.
NCAA policies were updated early last year with amended rules related to transgender athletes, ultimately giving each sport more autonomy to decide how such competitors may participate.