Kansas GOP leader says he’s “just giddy” after his party passes draconian anti-trans bill

Speaker Dan Hawkins
Speaker Dan Hawkins Photo: KS legislature

Kansas Republicans enacted one of the most regressive bathroom bills in the nation after the state legislature overrode Gov. Laura Kelly’s (D) veto, leading Kansas House of Representatives Speaker Dan Hawkins (R) to proclaim himself “just giddy.”

“Getting that women’s bill of rights was truly the icing on the cake,” Hawkins said after the body voted 84 to 41, mostly along party lines, to override Kelly’s veto. The state senate voted 28-12 to override her veto.

S.B. 180 – dubbed the “women’s bill of rights” despite not containing any rights for women – defines sex in terms of reproductive organs. It says that “a female” is someone whose “biological reproductive system is developed to produce ova” and “a male” is someone whose “biological reproductive system is developed to fertilize the ova of a female.”

The law bans trans people from using the bathroom associated with their gender in not just schools but also prisons, women’s shelters, rape crisis shelters, and locker rooms. Moreover, it bans trans people from updating the gender marker on their driver’s licenses.

“Kansans aren’t crazy, and yet here we are with the most extreme bill in the entire country,” said state Rep. Brandon Woodard (D).

The state house passed S.B. 180 in March, and the state senate passed it again after the state house amended it in early April. Earlier this week, Kelly vetoed the bill along with three other anti-trans bills, saying that the bills would hurt the state’s economy.

“Companies have made it clear that they are not interested in doing business with states that discriminate against workers and their families,” she said in a statement. “By stripping away rights from Kansans and opening the state up to expensive and unnecessary lawsuits, these bills would hurt our ability to continue breaking economic records and landing new business deals. I’m focused on the economy. Anyone care to join me?” 

S.B. 180 is the first of the four bills to be passed over her veto. It’s not yet clear whether both chambers have the necessary two-thirds majorities required to override her vetoes on the other three bills.

Trans people said that the bills put them at risk for violence and harassment and showed how much state leaders hate them.

“When I go out in public, like I’m at a restaurant or up on campus or whatever, and I need to go to the bathroom, there’s definitely going to be a voice in my head that says, ‘Am I going to get harassed for that?’” 20-year-old University of Kansas student Jenna Bellemere told The Guardian.

“The fact that someone even had the balls to say this is something we should try to pass is big enough,” 19-year-old University of Kansas student Lane Rozin told the Kansas City Star. “It shows that there are people in our government system that are trying to erase our identities.”

Equality Kansas pointed out that the bill could threaten federal funding because it will force the state out of compliance with federal nondiscrimination policies.

“We’re at risk of losing a ton of federal funding for domestic violence centers,” said Taryn Jones, a lobbyist for the organization.

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