Utah Legislature Overrides Governor’s Veto of Transgender Sports Bill

On Friday, the Utah legislature voted to override Governor Spencer Cox’s veto of a measure that would prevent transgender girls from participating in female sports in schools across the state. In a 56-18 vote, the Republican-controlled House first voted to override Cox’s veto. Shortly after, the Senate also voted to override the veto by a vote of 21-8.

“I believe in fairness and protecting the integrity of women’s sports. Unfortunately, HB11 has several fundamental flaws which is why I’ve chosen to veto the bill,” Cox said in a statement last week. Cox, who has “he/him” pronouns in his Twitter bio, wanted Utah to become the first state to find a “compromise” that would protect the integrity of women’s sports while also allowing limited participation form “transgender youth.”

“Last year, I was encouraged to see legislators and LGBTQ advocates work on a compromise that would protect women’s sports and allow some participation for transgendered youth,” Cox wrote in a tweet. “I am not an expert on transgenderism. I struggle to understand so much of it and the science is conflicting. When in doubt however, I always try to err on the side of kindness, mercy and compassion,” he continued.

Four GOP lawmakers from each legislative body changed their initial votes in opposition to the measure in order to support the override, according to Utah’s Deseret News. Another legislator, Rep. Mike Winder, voted for the measure but opted not to override the governor’s veto.

State Rep. Kera Birkeland, the bill’s Republican sponsor, said the bill is “purely” about “preserving women’s sports” and warned that when “we don’t act, and we just go with the status quo, we just do more harm to both transgender youth and women athletes.”

The state’s NBA team, the Utah Jazz, issued a statement shortly after the override. “The Utah Jazz oppose discriminatory legislation. We are committed to our values of inclusivity, mutual respect and fair play,” the statement said. “Beyond basketball, we hope for an equitable solution that shows love and compassion for all our youth.”

Earlier this weel, Indiana Republican Governor Eric Holcomb also vetoed a bill that would have prevented transgender females from taking part in female sports. Holcomb claimed the bill left “too many unanswered questions” and questioned the need for such legislation at the state level.

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Cullen McCue