GOP Governor Vetoes Transgender Girls Sports Ban

In a shocking move, a GOP Governor vetoed a transgender sports bill blocking transgender females from participating in female sports.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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transgender sports

Transgender sports have been a heated topic this year. Recently, transgender Penn State swimmer Lia Thomas made national headlines after becoming the first transgender sports athlete to win a top-tier National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) crown. Instances such as this one have led many lawmakers to push legislation that would ban those born males from competing in female sports in school. Indiana was in line to become one of those states ready to ban the practice, but the state’s GOP Governor vetoed the bill sent to his desk. 

Republican Governor Eric Holcomb confused his fellow constituents in Congress when he vetoed HB 1041 on Monday. Last month, the GOP governor signaled support for the transgender sports bill. However, he claimed in his veto letter that the bill fell short of providing consistent statewide policy for fairness in school sports. Furthermore, Holcomb said that the bill led to a presumption that there was an existing problem in the state’s school sports programs that called for a need in “government intervention,” he said in his letter. He concluded his statement iterating his personal support for the effort but failed to see how the goal of consistency and fairness in sports is not already being met. 

The bill was authored by Rep. Michelle Davis, a Republican from the state’s 58th district. In the bill’s verbiage, the law would prohibit k-12 students who were born male but now identify as female from participating in a sport or on an athletic team designated for females. However, the transgender sports bill failed to ban transgender men from playing on a male sports team. The bill passed the House in late January with 66 yeas and 30 nays. Going on to the Senate floor, it passed party lines with 32 yeas and 18 nays. Governor Holcomb remained on the sidelines watching as the bill faced intense opposition and heated debates. 

transgender sports

If the bill had been approved, it would have marked Indiana as the twelfth Republican-led state to adopt similar laws barring transgender sports. Recently, Iowa and South Dakota were two more states that joined the movement. One of Indiana’s Republican sponsors of HB 1041 said the law was needed to protect the integrity of female sports, along with keeping the opportunities open to those born female. Similarly, backers of such legislation argue that transgender athletes take athletic scholarship opportunities away from female athletes. 

Those against the banning of transgender sports see things differently. In Congress, opponents argued that the issue was made up by conservatives, insinuating that a problem doesn’t exist. State Democratic Party Chairman Mike Schmuhl said if the legislation was passed, it would put children in “jeopardy.” He went on to also call the debate “unnecessary” claiming the only thing it would accomplish is setting a tone that being transgender is wrong. Furthermore, the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana had threatened to start a lawsuit against the state for what they were calling “hateful legislation”.

When signing his veto, Holcomb also pointed out that the Indiana High School Athletic Association has reported zero instances of transgender girls in the state requesting to play on a girls’ team. That is out of over one million students state-wide. The transgender sports bill still has a chance, as Indiana lawmakers can override the governor’s veto with majorities in both House and Senate. This veto override vote could happen as soon as May 24, with which leaders have set a tentative one-day meeting for more debate and discussion.