State Watch

Utah legislature overrides governor’s veto of transgender sports ban

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The Republican-led Utah legislature overrode Gov. Spencer Cox’s (R) veto of a bill that would prohibit transgender girls from playing on sports teams that correspond with their gender identity. 

The House voted 56-18 to override the veto and the Senate voted 21-8, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. All Democrats in both chambers voted against overturning the veto, while two Republicans in each chamber joined them. 

The bill’s sponsors on Friday were able to flip 12 Republican votes to overturn the governor’s veto, according to NPR.

After weeks of signaling that he would veto the bill, Cox did so on Tuesday, stating that there are only four transgender kids in high school participating in sports in Utah. Only one of those children is a transgender girl playing on a girls’ team.

“That’s what all of this is about. Four kids who aren’t dominating or winning trophies or taking scholarships. Four kids who are just trying to find some friends and feel like they are a part of something. Four kids trying to get through each day,” Cox said in his decision.  

“Rarely has so much fear and anger been directed at so few. I don’t understand what they are going through or why they feel the way they do. But I want them to live.”

Studies have shown that members of the transgender and gender nonconforming community have experienced higher rates of suicide.

The vote to override Cox’s veto came after intense debate, with the bill’s sponsor saying the “integrity of women’s sports” needed to stay intact. 

“I truly believe we’re here to uphold Title IX, to preserve the integrity of women’s sports and to do so in a way unlike other states,” Republican state Rep. Kera Birkeland said, according to the local outlet. 

House Minority Leader Brian King (D) argued against the Republicans characterization of girls and boys. 

“Things are not simply black and white, in terms of gender orientation, sexual orientation, gender identification. It’s definitely not accurate to say that girls are girls and boys are boys,” King said. “Our public education students deserve better than that from us.”

The bill will go into effect July 1. 

Multiple states, including Florida, Alabama and Georgia, have recently banned transgender women and girls from participating women’s sports. 

Tags Civil rights in the United States LGBT Title IX Transgender Transgender youth Youth

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