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Two GOP Governors Vetoed Anti-Trans Sports Bills Despite Conservative Outrage. Here Are Their Reasons.

Two Republican governors this week vetoed state bills that would have required transgender athletes to compete in school sports according to their biological sex.


This seriously bucks the trend among Republicans.


In recent years, dozens of state legislators have advanced legislation aimed at preventing transgender athletes, like University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, from participating in school sports based on their gender identity. Eleven of the bill have become law.

Then came this week’s vetoes in Indiana and Utah.

INDIANA GOV. ERIC HOLCOMB: In a letter to state lawmakers Monday, Holcomb said he found no evidence of “consistency and fairness in competitive female sports” being compromised.

  • The Republican governor also took issue with key procedural elements of House Enrolled Act 1041, which would prohibit anyone assigned male at birth from competing in women’s scholastic sports.
  • The bill failed to clarify how the law would be applied consistently and fairly across different counties and school districts, Holcomb wrote, citing concerns raised by the Indiana High School Athletic Association.
  • “Amidst the flurry of enthusiasm to protect the integrity and fairness of women’s sports in our state – a worthy cause for sure – this bill leaves too many questions,” he added.

No transgender student athletes competing in Indiana, according to U.S. News and World Report.

UTAH GOV. SPENCER COX: The Republican sent his own letter to state lawmakers Tuesday arguing that HB11 has “fundamental flaws,” violates the state’s history of approaching “complicated issues in ways that bring collaboration and fairness” and could face lawsuits if passed.

  • Cox also suggested the bill — which would require schools to designate teams by sex and prohibit biological males from playing on girls’ teams — was unnecessary since only four high school athletes in Utah are transgender.
  • “Rarely has so much fear and anger been directed at so few,” he wrote. “I don’t understand what they are going through or why they feel the way they do. But I want them to live.”


Holcomb and Cox’s vetoes have already drawn fierce criticism from the right.

  • “Governor Cox is not really listening to where the people are on the issue,” Jon Schweppes, director of policy and government Affairs for American Principles Project, told EWTN News on Wednesday.
  • Jack Posobiec, a popular MAGA influencer and host of the Human Events podcast, tweeted Tuesday in response to Holcomb’s veto: “Establishment GOP buckles again.”

A group of GOP lawmakers in Indiana have started making plans to override Holcomb’s veto, with House Speaker Todd Huston promising a vote in late May.

  • “This issue continues to be in the national spotlight and for good reason as women have worked hard for equal opportunities on the playing field — and that’s exactly what they deserve,” Huston said in a statement.


In March 2021, Republican Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota vetoed legislation that would have barred transgender women and girls from competing in female sports.

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas also got the Carlson treatment after he in April vetoed a bill to restrict surgery and other “gender affirming” treatments for children.