GOP governors of Utah and Indiana veto transgender school sports bans

Trans athlete supporter
(Image credit: Stephen Zenner/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images)

On the same day Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) proclaimed that transgender swimmer Lia Thomas did not win an NCAA women's swim event in Atlanta last week, at least not as far as Florida was concerned, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R) vetoed a ban on transgender students playing girls sports, telling Utah legislators that while "I struggle to understand so much of it and the science is conflicting," he will "always try to err on the side of kindness, mercy, and compassion."

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) on Monday vetoed a bill that would have banned transgender girls and women from participating in girls sporting events, saying the controversial GOP bill "falls short" of creating a consistent statewide policy for "fairness in K-12 sports." Holcomb said he supports "the effort overall" to ensure only students born with female sex organs can play girls sports, but "I find no evidence" that "there is an existing problem in K-12 sports in Indiana that requires further state government intervention."

Cox had supported a compromise between ban supporters and LGBTQ groups that Republicans scuttled in the final hours of the legislative session. He noted in his veto letter that four transgender athletes — three boys and one girl — out of 85,000 players in the state, have been ruled eligible to play by Utah's high school athletic association. "Four kids who are just trying to find some friends and feel like they are a part of something. Four kids trying to get through each day," Cox wrote. "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."

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Indiana's legislature can, and likely will, override Holcomb's veto with a simple majority vote, but Utah Republicans would have to flip some no votes to successfully override Cox's.

Cox and Holcomb are outliers, as governors in 11 conservative-leaning states have signed bans on transgender kids in sports and another dozen states are considering similar bans. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has ordered state agencies to investigate parents of some transgender children for child abuse, though a state appellate court has put his order on hold.

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.