Apr 29, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Kansas legislators uphold governor's veto of trans athlete ban

Photo of two trans flags flying in the wind
Trans pride flags flutter in the wind to celebrate International Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31, 2017, in Los Angeles. Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

Kansas legislators upheld Gov. Laura Kelly's (D) veto of a transgender athlete ban on Thursday after the state House failed to secure the two-thirds majority needed to override it.

Why it matters: The bill is one of dozens being legislated across the country as Republican lawmakers move to prohibit trans women and girls from participating in school sports teams that align with their gender identity.

  • "Compassion wins today," Kansas state Rep. Brandon Woodard (D), one of the state’s first out gay legislators, tweeted after the House vote.

Worth noting: The state House also voted to uphold Kelly's veto of legislation that would allow parents to challenge school material that "impairs the parent’s firmly held beliefs, values or principles."

  • The state Senate had voted to override both vetos earlier this week.

The big picture: The House vote comes days after GOP state Rep. Cheryl Helmer faced backlash for saying she does not "appreciate the huge transgender female who is now in our restrooms in the Capitol" in an email about the trans athlete ban, the Topeka Capitol-Journal reports.

  • Helmer later confirmed to the outlet she had been referring to state Rep. Stephanie Byers (D), Kansas' first trans lawmaker.
  • Byers responded by saying the rhetoric is "all conflated intentionally to create this image in the public, that trans people are to be feared."
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