Mississippi Gov.

(R) on Thursday signed the year’s first ban on transgender athletes participating in women’s sports in public schools, a move dozens of other states are considering. 

Reeves and other Republicans have touted the law as necessary to level the playing field for female athletes, while critics have hammered the proposals as transphobic. Mississippi’s ban is set to go into effect on July 1.

“This important piece of legislation will ensure that young girls in Mississippi have a fair, level playing field in public school sports,” Reeves said at the bill’s signing Thursday.

“It sends a clear message to my daughters and all of Mississippi’s daughters that their rights are worth fighting for,” he added.

, dubbed the Mississippi Fairness Act states that “Athletic teams or sports designated for ‘females,’ ‘women’ or ‘girls’ shall not be open to students of the male sex” in public K-12 and colleges and universities in Mississippi.

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