Republican governors of Indiana and Utah vetoed legislation Monday and Tuesday, respectively, that would have barred males from competing in women’s sports.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb spiked a bill passed by the state Legislature that would have banned biological males from competing in girls school sports, citing concerns about legal challenges the law may face in court in a letter to the speaker of the state’s House of Representatives.
The governor said the state does not face issues related to transgender students participating in sports. Holcomb said the bill was based on “the presumption … that there is an existing problem in K-12 sports in Indiana that requires further state government intervention” and “that the goals of consistency and fairness in competitive female sports are not being met.”
“I find no evidence to support either claim even if I support the overall goal,” he wrote.
Holcomb’s office directed the Daily Caller News Foundation to the governor’s letter without offering further comment upon request.
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox vetoed a similar bill Tuesday that would have prohibited “student[s] of the male sex” from competing in girls sports.
Like Holcomb, Cox cited fear of litigation as a primary reason for his veto in a letter to legislators.
Cox said the bill in its final form would “likely bankrupt the Utah High School Athletic Association and result in millions of dollars in legal fees for local school districts with no state protection.”
An earlier version of the Utah bill would have incorporated a board of experts to determine whether transgender children could play on the team of their choice, but the final version of the bill banned participation in sports outside of one’s biological sex outright.
Cox wrote about the lack of public input and discussion time for the bill in his letter. “How we make policy matters almost as much as the policy itself. An opportunity to participate is a critical component of public trust,” he said.
He also said he was “not an expert on transgenderism” and wanted to “err on the side of kindness, mercy, and compassion,” citing suicide statistics for transgender youth and statistics suggesting that transgender participation in sports would be a rare issue in Utah.
Cox’s office declined to respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
“High school girls across the state have expressed their concerns, and we owe it to them to listen,” Utah state Rep. Kera Birkeland told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Sports are their opportunity to overcome obstacles and break barriers. But in order to do that, they need a fair playing field.”
The bills are part of a broader trend of conservative states banning males from competing in women’s sports in recent years, one which has heated up in 2022 as transgender swimmer Lia Thomas competed in women’s college swimming at the national level.
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