Utah Governor Spencer Cox joins Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb in vetoing transgender sports bills

by mcardinal

Matt Bush, FISM News


Republican governor Spencer Cox vetoed a bill in Utah that would have banned biologically male, transgender students from participating in female sports. This comes a day after Eric Holcomb, the Republican governor of Indiana, vetoed a similar bill.

Holcomb and Cox are GOP outliers as 11 other Republican governors have signed similar bills into law in their state. In Utah, it is widely expected that state lawmakers will override the veto, and it is a strong possibility in Indiana as well.  

Gov. Cox pleaded with his constituents to read the letter that he wrote in explaining his decision rather than just reading the headline that it would create.

In his letter Cox begins by stating, “I believe in fairness and protecting the integrity of women’s sports.” He went on to say, “For the very small number of transgender kids who are looking to find a sense of connection and community–without posing any threat to women’s sports–the commission would allow participation. However, the committee would prohibit participation in the rare circumstance of an outlier who could pose a safety threat or dominate a sport in a way that would eliminate competitive opportunities for biological females.”

The solution being negotiated in Utah, as can be seen by the above excerpt from Cox’s letter, was to subjectively choose when it was appropriate for a boy to compete in girls’ sports and when it was not. Cox went on to state that out of 75,000 high school students participating in sports, only 4 were transgender, and out of those 4, only 1 was a biological male competing against females. He described alarming suicide rates among transgender kids with 86% contemplating suicide and 56% having attempted suicide, according to the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

In both cases, the governors seemed to believe that there is no “competitive advantage” being gained currently in their states by males competing against females in sport. Holcomb, as noted in the FISM story yesterday, stated that the law “implies that the goals of consistency and fairness in competitive female sports are not currently being met,” adding, “After thorough review, I find no evidence to support either claim even if I support the overall goal.” Cox made similar comments as well.

Both governors also seemed to try to err on the side of compassion for the transgender students in their states who would be affected by the bill, as Cox stated, “Rarely has so much fear and anger been directed at so few. I don’t understand what they are going through or why they feel the way they do. But I want them to live.”

The topic of males competing in female sports is very new and has been brought to the forefront by Lia Thomas, a biological male who has recently dominated NCAA women’s swimming competitions. Republican lawmakers in many states, including Utah and Indiana, have seen this move towards “acceptance” and “tolerance” in the world of sports and are taking steps to protect female athletes. 

Gov. Cox stated, “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.” 

As of the writing of this article, it has yet to be explained how “the science is conflicting” when it comes to gender. It has also not yet been explained why kindness, mercy and compassion should not be shown to female high school athletes who have worked their whole lives to earn scholarships and spots on sports teams.