Indiana's Eric Holcomb and Utah's Spencer Cox are the only Republican governors so far to veto legislation aimed at preventing men who claim they are women from unfairly competing in women's sports. Governor Cox suggested his veto on Tuesday took into account the potential effects on transgender youth.
"I struggle to understand so much of it and the science is conflicting," Cox wrote in a letter to Utah legislative leaders. "When in doubt, however, I always try to err on the side of kindness, mercy and compassion."
Governor Holcomb, in defending his Monday veto, claimed he could find "no evidence" the transgender issue has surfaced in K-12 sports programs in the state. Attorney Matt Sharp with Alliance Defending Freedom speculates that because some politicians have yet to see the issue surface in their own state, to their own detriment they consider legislation addressing it as unnecessary and overreactive.
Micah Clark is executive director of the American Family Association of Indiana. Clark says there's a good chance the Indiana legislature will override Holcomb's veto. But that veto, he tells AFN, shows just how out of touch the governor is with average Hoosiers.
"Most people do not want their daughters to lose advantage in sports or to have privacy concerns if there's a male in their restroom or locker room. That is the elephant in the room on this bill," Clark explains.
A brief description of H.B. 1041 says the legislation "prohibits a male, based on the student's biological sex at birth in accordance with the student's genetics and reproductive biology, from participating on an athletic team or sport designated as being a female, women's, or girls' athletic team or sport."
"It's [called] the Fairness in Girls Sports Act – and it is about fairness," Clark offers. "Our bill passed with strong majorities in the House [66-30] and Senate [32-18]. I hope that they will override the governor when they have a chance. I believe the governor is really out of touch with Hoosiers here and really shows his moderate liberal colors by doing this. I'm very disappointed in him."
According to the family advocate, there's another problem with the bill. "[It] was originally filed to protect girls in colleges too [but] that was taken out," Clark shares. "I think the governor wanted that because he was afraid of the NCAA, which is based in Indianapolis.
"So, if he doesn't want to protect girls [and] he's afraid of corporate interests and liberal activists, then he's not concerned about the protection of children at all."
Eleven states have enacted bans on transgender athletes competing in opposite-sex events – Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia. Lawmakers in at least 12 other states are considering some form of a ban on transgender student-athletes in youth sports, according to a tally from the National Conference of State Legislatures.