Utah’s GOP Governor Plans to Veto Bill Regarding Transgenders in Youth Sports


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While Republican governors around the country have either signed or signaled an intent to sign measures that bar transgender, biological males from competing in all-female sporting events in school, one GOP governor — Utah’s Spencer Cox — is planning to buck the trend.

“Without his support, Utah is unlikely to join the 11 other states, all Republican-led, that have recently enacted bans on transgender girls wanting to compete in school sports leagues that correspond with their gender identity,” The Daily Mail reported.

“In vowing to veto the bill, Cox directly addressed transgender student-athletes, who he said found themselves the subject of political debate through no fault of their own,” the report continued.

“I just want them to know that it’s gonna be okay. We’re gonna work through this,” Cox said on Saturday.

For months, Cox reportedly worked behind the scenes to try and find a compromise between LGBTQ advocates and the state’s social conservatives and defenders of women’s sports.


“We care deeply about Utah’s female athletes and our LGBTQ+ community,” said a tweet Friday from the governor’s office after the legislation passed in the state Senate.

“To those hurt tonight: It’s going to be OK. We’re going to help you get through this. Please reach out if you need help. @Safe_UT is free and provides immediate and confidential counseling,” his office added.

The Daily Mail noted further:

After throwing his support behind a proposal to create a first-of-its-kind commission of experts in Utah to make decisions on individual transgender student-athletes aiming to participate, Cox said he was stunned on Friday evening as lawmakers advanced and ultimately passed an amended proposal that included an outright ban on transgender student-athletes competing in girls leagues.

Legislation sent to Cox after passing through the state Senate and House on Friday bans ‘biological males’ — which it defines as ‘an individual’s genetics and anatomy at birth’ — from girls leagues. Supporters said it would ensure fairness and safety for girls and pre-empt cultural shifts they said could lead to a growing number of transgender kids wanting to compete in girls sports in the future.


“Boys can run faster, they can jump higher and they can throw farther than girls in the same age bracket,” said GOP state Sen. Curt Bramble. “To have individuals that are born male compete against naturally born females, it’s an unfair playing field.”

Initially, Cox’s office supported a proposed “School Activity Eligibility Commission” that would have been comprised of experts in both sports and transgender healthcare, but ultimately, it was not supported by either side of the issue.

“Though they preferred it to an outright ban, LGBTQ advocates worried transgender kids required to appear before the panel would feel targeted. Social conservatives, backed by a much larger contingent of Republican lawmakers, said it didn’t go far enough to protect girls sports,” the report continued.

The controversy came to a head in recent months as transgender University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, born a biological male and who competed on the all-male team at the school for two years, began competing on the all-female team and blowing away school records for girl’s swimming. Her competing has been widely panned by critics who say she has a distinctly unfair advantage, as evidenced by the ease with which she broke those records.

“I’m a woman, just like anybody else on the team. I’ve always viewed myself as just a swimmer. It’s what I’ve done for so long; it’s what I love,” she told Sports Illustrated for a story published last week, in response to some parents’ complaints that her presence is destructive to female sports.

“The very simple answer is that I’m not a man. I’m a woman, so I belong on the women’s team,” Thomas added.

But one parent countered: “We support Lia as a trans woman and hope she leads a happy and productive life, because that’s what she deserves. What we can’t do is stand by while she rewrites records and eliminates biological women from this sport. If we don’t speak up here, it’s going to happen in college after college. And then women’s sports, as we know it, will no longer exist in this country.”

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