Gov. Veto Stands, Transgender Girls In This State Can Still Play In Girls’ Sports

Despite Republican's best efforts, the veto on a bill looking to ban transgender girls from participating on sports teams stands.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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transgender girls

America is quite divided on the matter of transgender sports participation, and that notion is exemplified best in legislation. Within the past year or so, 15 states have enacted transgender girls’ sports bans. But plenty of others also vetoed measures looking to restrict them. Within the past two months, both Indiana and Utah’s governors vetoed similar bills, and Kansas quickly joined them. Despite Republicans’ hopes to override the veto in Kansas, the veto stands, and transgender girls in The Sunflower State will remain able to participate on school sports teams if they choose to.

In Kansas, the government chambers are quite divided. Governor Laura Kelly, who originally vetoed the transgender girls’ legislation earlier this month, is a Democrat. But both the House and Senate chambers are controlled by Republicans. Those chambers both had a chance to override the governor’s veto during this week’s session, but the House failed to get the two-thirds majority vote needed. The override was rejected in an 81-41 vote, leaving the bill’s supporters just three votes short of passing it into law. 

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Touted by Republicans as the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, SB 160 would have barred transgender girls from participating in sports teams that didn’t match their biological sex at birth. It would have affected sports teams on the K-12 school level, in higher ed, and clubs and intramural sports. Supporters said the bill’s purpose wasn’t to target or discriminate against any groups, but instead to enact fairness and equality for women in sports.

Those in favor of legislation barring transgender girls from participating in female athletics say it creates an unfair advantage for them. Typically, men have 10 to 15 times more testosterone within their bodies. This leads to larger muscles, denser bones, and higher percentages of lean body mass over women. Critics argue that this means that cisgender women will perform better in school athletics, and can take away from natural-born females’ scholarship opportunities. 

But those who oppose transgender girls’ sports bans see things differently. Many argue that the science behind those testosterone references is often counterintuitive, as many young cisgender athletes go through treatments to lower their testosterone levels. A medical physicist published a study backing this claim up and concluded that transgender women who received treatment to lower their testosterone levels did no better in competitive races against females than they had previously done against males. 

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Regardless of body composition, the debate over letting transgender girls participate on women’s sports teams is a heated topic all around the country. For Kansas’ governor, it could make a difference in whether or not she is reelected to the office again at the end of this year. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is poised to run against Kelly this election year. According to the Associated Press, Schmidt has previously stated that he would sign similar transgender legislation into law.

For the time being, transgender girls will remain able to participate on female sports teams. But depending on what happens after the elections, that could soon change next year. What is almost certain though is that the great debate regarding transgender rights in school settings will rage on for years to come.