UPDATE (3/22): Utah Gov. Spencer Cox vetoed a bill banning transgender girls from playing school sports on Tuesday, Associated Press reports. The news follows Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s decision on Monday to veto a similar bill banning transgender girls from competing in girls’ school sports.
“I struggle to understand so much of it and the science is conflicting,” the Republican governor wrote in his veto letter. “When in doubt however, I always try to err on the side of kindness, mercy and compassion.”
Utah legislative leaders already announced a plan to reconvene to overturn the governor’s veto.
Original story published on March 21
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb vetoed a bill on Monday that sought to ban transgender girls from competing in girls’ school sports, Associated Press reports.
Last month, the Republican governor appeared to support the bill, known as HEA 1041, but wrote that the legislation “falls short” of delivering a consistent state policy for what he called “fairness in K-12 sports” in a veto letter sent to lawmakers. Holcomb also questioned whether there was an issue that needed immediate resolve.
“The presumption of the policy laid out in HEA 1041 is that there is an existing problem in K-12 sports in Indiana that requires further state government intervention,” Holcomb wrote. “It implies that the goals of consistency and fairness in competitive female sports are not currently being met. After thorough review, I find no evidence to support either claim even if I support the effort overall.”
He added that he believed the legislation would likely be met with “litigation against our schools” due to potential confusion with student-athletes being treated differently depending on which school they attend.
Opponents of the bill say it is bigoted and unnecessary, with the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana planning to file a lawsuit against what it called the “hateful legislation.” Meanwhile, Republican sponsors of the bill claim it would protect integrity in female sports and address issues of competitive fairness.
The veto comes as the GOP continues its war on trans teens, with at least 38 anti-trans medical bans having been introduced in legislatures across the country this year alone.
Eleven other Republican-led states have adopted similar laws to what the Indiana bill proposed, which prohibits K-12 students who were born male but identify as female from participating in a sport or team designated for women or girls. It does not prohibit students who identify as female or transgender men from participating on men’s sports teams.
Indiana lawmakers can override Holcomb’s veto with simple majorities in both the House and Senate. On Monday, the Indiana governor also signed a bill eliminating the state’s permit requirement to carry handguns in public.