Mar 25, 2022 - Sports

Utah lawmakers enact transgender sports ban despite governor's veto

Utah State Capitol building pictured on January 20, 2021. Photo: George Frey/AFP via Getty Images

Utah lawmakers voted to ban transgender youth from playing school sports on Friday, overriding Gov. Spencer Cox, who vetoed the bill earlier this week.

Why it matters: The bill, which goes into effect July 1, effectively prohibits transgender athletes from participating on girls' sports teams.

  • Fifteen Utah Republicans — 10 in the House and five in the Senate — flipped to support the bill, despite previously being against it, AP reports.

What they're saying: "I am grateful the Legislature recognized that there were serious flaws with HB11 and for the heightened debate and input legislators were able to receive over the pat few weeks," Cox said in a statement on Twitter on Friday.

  • "I remain hopeful that we will continue to work towards a more inclusive, fair and compassionate policy during the interim."
  • Cox previously criticized the bill for being changed at the last minute in such a way that would "result in millions of dollars in legal fees for local school districts with no state protection."

The big picture: Utah is now the 12th state to enact some sort of ban on transgender kids in school sports.

Flashback: Cox was the second Republican governor to veto — and push back on — legislation targeting trans youth athletes after Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb also vetoed a similar bill.

  • "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," Cox wrote in the letter to the leaders of the state House and Senate explaining his decision to veto the bill.

Of note: Utah has only one transgender girl playing in K-12 sports who would be affected by the ban, AP writes.

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