Opponents bitterly divided over where youth transgender athletes belong

Signs not permitted in the Senate Chamber during public testimony on HB 1041 in summer 2022 piled up in Statehouse hallways. 

INDIANAPOLIS—As the May 24 one-day session for technical corrections approaches, the transgender sports bill veto awaits an override vote.

LGBTQ advocacy groups and the Indiana ACLU celebrated Gov. Eric Holcomb’s decision to veto the bill, but the victory may not last long. Leaders from both chambers of the Indiana General Assembly have announced that they will vote to override Holcomb’s veto of House Enrolled Act 1041, a controversial bill barring transgender girls from participating in girls’ sports.

The veto gained national coverage for Holcomb from The New York Times, which highlighted him as a Republican governor disagreeing with a Republican-led legislature. 

In the veto, Holcomb said that the Indiana High School Athletic Association already has a policy for transgender athletes and that the policy hasn’t been used.

House Speaker Rep. Todd Huston, R-Fishers, has said the House will work to override the veto. Senate President Pro Tem Sen. Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville, said the Senate will consider the veto override if it is successful in the House.

According to Deseret News, 12 states had enacted laws that ban transgender students from participating in sports that match their gender identity as of March. An additional eight states were listed as ones with legislation to watch, including Indiana.

Just south of the state, Kentucky followed a similar path with the same legislation but with a Democratic governor. Unlike the Indiana bill, this bill included collegiate sports. Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto was overridden by a large margin.

Holcomb wasn’t the only Republican to veto this kind of legislation. Utah Gov. Spencer Cox also vetoed it but faces the same threat of an override.

Indiana’s bill was authored by Rep. Michelle Davis, R-Whiteland. Davis and other supporters of the legislation said its purpose is to keep girls’ sports fair.

It passed in the House 66-30 and in the Senate 32-18. Legislators just need a simple majority to override Holcomb’s veto.

Taylor Wooten is a reporter at TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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