Pennsylvania Gov. Vetoes Transgender Sports Ban Act

Gov. Tom Wolf recently vetoed a Pennsylvania transgender bill barring transgender females from participating on any girls' sport team.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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Pennsylvania transgender bill

Yet another state is attempting to block transgender students from participating in school sports teams with which gender they identify. It has been a historic year for similar bills being pushed through the state’s legislature, but just as the drive continues for these restricting laws, the pushback against them is just as strong. Now, another governor has halted one such act, as Tom Wolf recently vetoed a Pennsylvania transgender bill. 

Last week, democratic governor Tom Wolf vetoed House Bill 972, stopping it from becoming law. The Pennsylvania transgender bill was officially known as the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act. When denying the piece of legislation, Wolf called it “discriminatory transphobic legislation.” 

Under the proposed Pennsylvania transgender bill’s text, all schools within the state would be required to designate a sport as male, boys, or men, along with female women, or girls. Co-ed or mixed would still be allowed to exist. In requiring this terminology, the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act would furthermore prohibit students born of the male gender from participating on any athletic sports team that is specifically designated for females, women, or girls. 

The Pennsylvania transgender bill easily passed both the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and Senate. Republican lawmakers pushed for the legislation, as a means to support naturally born females’ rights. Supporters of this fear that allowing transgender females to compete against these females would set an unfair standard, taking away opportunities for them. Much of this stems from the recent victory of Lia Thomas, a transgender female swimmer who became the first transgender female to win an NCAA championship. 

Others opposed to allowing transgender females to compete against natural-born women point to science. Typically, men have about 10 to 15 times more testosterone in their bodies than women do. Testosterone leads to larger muscle mass and a higher level of bone density, making them stronger than the average woman. All of this is leading the majority of Republican-led states to push similar legislation like this Pennsylvania transgender bill.

But just for every fight supporting these laws, LGBTQ+ activists, and many liberals and democrats, fiercely negate the claims for banning them. First and foremost, opposers call the Pennsylvania transgender bill discriminatory. Wolf pointed to this as the utmost reason for his veto. The fear is that these restricting laws place a target on transgender youth, villainizing a group that is already known to be heavily bullied and at mental health risks. Likewise, many feel that the rhetoric is creating a problem out of something that doesn’t exist. This is exactly why Indiana’s governor vetoed a similar law, citing the fact that absolutely no transgender female students in the state were currently registered to play on a  girls’ school sports team. 

Pennsylvania transgender bill

Despite Wolf’s veto of the Pennsylvania transgender bill, it still has a chance to become law in the near future. Soon, it will head back to the chambers of Congress for the option of an override. As long as two-thirds of the Senate and House approve of the bill, there is nothing the governor can do, and the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act would be voted through. However, the Republican-led congress chambers would have to sway Democratic votes to make the majority override possible.