Gov. Beshear vetoes bill banning transgender women from women’s sports
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WAVE) - Kentucky governor Andy Beshear has vetoed a bill on Wednesday that would have banned transgender girls from participating in women’s sports in the commonwealth.
Senate Bill 83, also known as the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” was passed in the House in a 70 to 23 vote and was forwarded to the governor’s desk after a 26 to 9 vote in the Senate.
If passed, the bill would designate interscholastic sports to students’ biological sex listed on their birth certificate. The bill would apply to girls as young as sixth graders up to college-aged women.
Supporters of the bill argued it protected athletes in women’s sports making sure all athletes had a fair chance to succeed. They cited scientific studies that found biological males are stronger, faster, and have better endurance than biological females, even after they transition.
“There’s got to be a consensus that we’ve got to be fair to everyone,” Sen. Danny Carroll (R-Paducah) said. “If there’s a female athlete who is at the top of her sport when she gets into high school, and she gets knocked out by a transgendered athlete, that’s not fair. No one can say that is fair.”
However, others told WAVE News the bill is discriminatory against transgender girls.
“What’s not fair is telling transgender kids, or any kid that they’re not allowed to participate in the same school activities that every other kid has the opportunity to participate in,” Chris Hartman, executive director of the Fairness Campaign said.
Fischer Wells, a transgender girl, testified multiple times to lawmakers about how the bill would permanently bench her from playing on the Westport Middle School field hockey team; she worked to recruit girls so the team would have enough players to compete.
“I really don’t want this bill to pass because that means I can’t play, and it will be extremely detrimental to my mental health, because I know sports is a great way for me to cope with things,” Wells said.
Beshear’s statement in his veto message said the Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s policy was to create an environment free from discrimination based on sexual orientation.
“Senate Bill 83 most likely violates the equal protection rights afforded by the United States Constitution because it discriminates against transgender children seeking to participate in girls’ or women’s sports,” Beshear said in his message. “Moreover, Senate Bill 83 bans transgender children from participating in girls’ or women’s sports without presenting a single instance in Kentucky of a child gaining a competitive advantage as a result of sex reassignment.”
The gubernatorial veto can be overridden with a simple majority from the Senate.
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