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Utah’s Republican governor vetoes transgender sports ban

Utah Governor Spencer Cox, veto transgender sports ban
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox Photo: KSTU screenshot

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R) became the second Republican governor this week to veto a transgender sports ban.

In a letter sent on Tuesday to the leaders of the Utah state senate and house, Cox wrote that the bill to ban transgender girls from participating in school sports, H.B. 11, “has several fundamental flaws and should be reconsidered.”

Related: Utah Republicans demand government panel to evaluate trans kids’ bodies

His letter noted that H.B. 11 “will likely bankrupt the Utah High School Athletic Association [UHSAA] and result in millions of dollars in legal fees for local school districts.” He said that he wanted a commission to decide on transgender girls’ participation in schools sports on a case-by-case basis and that he hoped this could be a compromise, but that many Republican lawmakers held “a belief that any biologically-born male could simply say he was transgender and begin participating in women’s sports.”

“This is incorrect,” Cox said, noting that the UHSAA has already been allowing transgender students to compete in school sports under some conditions and only four students “have gone through our paperwork and we have not had any complaints from any other students or families or school administrators.”

“I must admit, I am not an expert on transgenderism,” Cox wrote in closing. “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. I also try to get proximate and I am learning so much from our transgender community. They are great kids who face enormous struggles.”

“Governor Cox made his intention to veto the bill clear from the day it was passed so his action today was expected,” House Speaker Brad Wilson (R) said in a statement.

Wilson added that he believes that he has enough votes to override Cox’s veto, and the Salt Lake Tribune said that Republican lawmakers are “overwhelmingly in favor” of holding a vote to do so.

Even Cox tweeted that the veto will be overridden on Friday and called for a “special session to fix a few things.”

Earlier this week, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) vetoed a transgender sports ban in his state, also citing the threat of discrimination lawsuits. Holcomb noted that federal courts have already issued injunctions in two states because of constitutional equal protection concerns.

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