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Kansas lawmakers poised to override Gov. Kelly's veto on trans athletes

Transgender Health-Athletes
Posted at 1:58 PM, Apr 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-05 14:58:28-04

TOPEKA, Kan. — Republican legislators in Kansas were poised Wednesday to override Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto of a bill that would ban transgender athletes from girls’ and women’s sports from kindergarten through college, a day after they pushed a broad bathroom bill to passage.

The state House voted 84-40 to override Kelly's third veto of a measure on transgender athletes in three years, giving supporters exactly the two-thirds majority they needed. A Senate vote was expected Wednesday afternoon, and the bill initially passed there last month with more than a two-thirds majority.

The measure would take effect July 1 and make Kansas the 20th state to enact such a ban for either K-12 schools or colleges or both. It's among several hundred proposals aimed at rolling back LGBTQ rights from Republican lawmakers in statehouses across the U.S.

The measure approved by lawmakers Tuesday not only would prevent transgender people from using public restrooms, locker rooms and other facilities associated with their gender identities but also bar them from changing their name or gender on their driver's licenses. It is among the most sweeping proposals of its kind in the nation, and Kelly is expected to veto it.

"It’s a scary time to be raising a trans child in Kansas,” said Cat Poland, a lifelong Kansas resident and mother of three, including a 13-year-old trans son, from a small town about 40 miles (65 kilometers) northwest of Wichita.

The Kansas measure would apply to girl's and women's school and club sports, and supporters pitched it as protecting fair competition and preserving scholarships and other opportunities for cisgendered girls and women that took decades to win.

“This is a victory not for me, but for all young women,” said Rep. Barb Wasinger, a Republican from western Kansas who has pushed the measure for three years.

Speaker of the House Rep. Dan Hawkins, a Republican from the Wichita area, championed the override as extending Title IX protections.

"The Fairness in Women's Sports act protects the rights of female athletes in the state by requiring that female student athletic teams only include members who are biologically female," Hawkins said in a statement. "House Republicans are united in our commitment to defending the intention of Title IX.

"We proudly stand with the female athletes across Kansas in their pursuit of athletic awards, opportunities, and scholarships and believe they deserve every chance at success afforded to their male counterparts."