Indiana Republicans poised to overrule governor’s veto on pointless trans sports ban

Amelia Hansford May 24, 2022
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A person holds up a sign that reads "Trans athletes belong in sports" during a demonstration

(Getty/Michael M Santiago)

In Indiana, Republicans are plotting to overturn the governor’s veto of a ban on transgender youth competing in women’s sports.

The sports ban legislation won by a landslide vote in the Indiana House and Senate, but was vetoed by Republican governor Eric Holcomb in March, who said it didn’t provide consistent policy for what he called “fairness in K-12 sports.”

“The presumption… is that here is an existing problem in K-12 sports in Indiana that requires further state government intervention,” the Republican said in his veto letter.

“It implies that the goals of consistency and fairness in competitive female sports are not currently being met. After thorough review, I find no evidence to support either claim even if I support the effort overall.”

The legislature is reconvening for a single-day session Tuesday (24 May), when Republicans are widely expected to overturn the veto.

Only simple majorities are needed in order to do so.

Democratic senator J.D. Ford of Indianapolis said the override will likely be successful, telling AP News on May 20: “This bill was filed, I believe, with the intention to specifically go after transgender Hoosiers [Indiana University Bloomington athletes] because it was a politically savvy thing to do for the Republican base.”

Activists, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, intend to rally a pushback against the legislation, including through filing a lawsuit stopping the “hateful legislation” from taking effect as scheduled on July 1.

“We’re hopeful that other lawmakers have taken the time to do the research,” Chris Paulsen of the Indiana Youth Group said to AP News. “We have to assume that they’re pushing this through out of meanness and targeting LGBTQ people, especially trans people.”

Republican sponsors of the bill emphasise its approval for the so-called protection of “the integrity of female sports and opportunities for girls to gain college athletic scholarship”, whilst opponents of the ban argue it’s an answer to a problem that doesn’t exist.

Holcomb initially supported the bill in February but pointed to the Indiana High School Athletic Association in his veto letter, which has a policy covering transgender students wanting to play sports that match their gender identity, and said that no transgender girls have succeeded in their request to play on a girl team.

This has come after several vetoes on similar bills across America. Republican Utah governor Spencer Cox vetoed a similar bill in March on the basis that laws like this “target vulnerable children who are already at high risk of suicide.” Utah’s Republican lawmakers eventually overrode the veto days later.

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