Election 2022

Republicans attack Kansas Gov Laura Kelly for supporting trans people. She responded in 8 words

Topeka, Kansas - January 14, 2019: Democrat Governor Laura Kelly delivers her inaugural speech is front of the steps of the Kansas State Capitol building
Topeka, Kansas - January 14, 2019: Democrat Governor Laura Kelly delivers her inaugural speech is front of the steps of the Kansas State Capitol buildingPhoto: Shutterstock

The Republican Governor’s Association (RGA) is saying Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) is lying about her record on transgender rights as she faces attack ads from the conservative organization over her two vetoes of transgender sports bans.

In 2021 and this past April, Kelly vetoed bills that would have banned transgender girls from participating in school sports as their gender. The bills did not similarly restrict transgender boys.

“We all want a fair and safe space for our kids to play and compete,” she said when she vetoed this year’s bill. “However, this bill didn’t come from the experts at our schools, our athletes, or the Kansas State High School Activities Association. It came from politicians trying to score political points.”

RGA has been running ads attacking Kelly for those vetoes. One of those ads featured cisgender swimmer Riley Gaines who said, “I was forced to share a locker room with a biological man. It was uncomfortable and it was wrong.”

“This has to stop,” she concluded. “If Laura Kelly can’t protect women, she shouldn’t be governor.”

In one of her ads, Kelly responded to the claims succinctly.

“You may have seen my opponent’s attacks,” she said in the ad. “So let me just say it: of course men should not play girls’ sports. OK, we all agree there.”

The rest of the ad calls out her opponent, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt (R), for his support of cutting school funding.

Her statement is true: these laws are not about stopping boys or men from playing girls’ or women’s sports, they’re about banning a subset of girls and women – those who are transgender – from participating in school sports. Like most mainstream Democrats, Kelly is in favor of transgender people getting access to full educations – sports education included – but isn’t in favor of removing gender distinctions in schools.

But Republicans are now accusing her of lying, mainly because they refuse to acknowledge transgender people for who they are.

“Laura Kelly is looking Kansans in the eye and flat out lying about her record of failing to protect girls and women from having to compete against biological men in athletics,” said a spokesperson for RGA Kansas in a press release issued today.

The press release didn’t defend Schmidt when it came to his record on cutting funding for schools.

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