- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed Wednesday legislation barring male-born athletes from female scholastic sports, setting up the possibility of an override in the Republican-controlled state legislature.

The Democrat Beshear described the bill as discriminatory and unnecessary, saying it would “ban transgender children from participating in girls’ and women’s sports without presenting a single instance in Kentucky of a child gaining a competitive advantage as a result of sex reassignment.”

Senate Bill 83 would prohibit male-born athletes from competing in female sports in grades 6-12 and college, with the student’s sex determined by the original, unaltered birth certificate or an affidavit from the medical professional conducting the annual sports physical.

Dubbed the Save Women’s Sports Act, the measure was approved last month by 26-9 in the Senate and 70-23 in the House, more than enough for a veto override, which requires only a simple majority in both chambers.

Among those urging legislators to hold an override vote was Kentucky’s Family Foundation, which accused the governor of putting “woke politics above ensuring fairness for the Commonwealth’s female athletes.”

“Kentuckians overwhelmingly support this commonsense bill, but unfortunately, Gov. Beshear chose to side with his woke political base instead of Kentucky’s female athletes,” said Family Foundation executive director David Walls. “Biology matters, especially in sports, and we look forward to the General Assembly overriding Beshear’s tone-deaf veto so that women’s sports in Kentucky can be protected.”

The Human Rights Campaign and Kentucky’s Fairness Campaign applauded the governor’s veto and asked legislators to uphold it, warning that the bill violates NCAA rules on transgender participation in women’s athletics and could trigger a lawsuit.

“While we are pleased with the Governor’s actions today, the rights of transgender people in Kentucky are still in danger,” said Fairness Campaign executive director Chris Hartman. “We urge state lawmakers to follow the lead of Governor Beshear and show compassion to transgender people in our commonwealth by not overriding this veto.”

The statement said that there was only one “openly transgender girl we know playing on a school sports team,” referring to an eighth-grade field hockey player.

At least one prominent Kentucky athlete has spoken out against rules permitting biological males in women’s elite sports.

Kentucky Wildcats sophomore Riley Gaines raised concerns after tying for fifth in the 200-yard freestyle with male-born swimmer Lia Thomas at last month’s NCAA Division I women’s swimming championships.

“It’s not Lia who is the issue, it’s really just the rules set in place by the NCAA and their failure to acknowledge how this affects so many in a bad way,” Gaines told LEX18-TV in Lexington.

So far 14 states have passed bills aimed at protecting female sports by banning male-born athletes, one of which became law after a veto override.

In Utah, the GOP-controlled legislature overrode Republican Gov. Spencer Cox’s veto last month by clearing the required two-thirds majorities in both houses.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, a Republican, also vetoed the GOP legislature’s bill, and could face an override at the May 24 veto session.
Mr. Beshear said he shared the Utah governor’s concerns about suicidality in transgender youth.

“Transgender children deserve public officials’ efforts to demonstrate that they are valued members of our communities through compassion, kindness and empathy, even if not understanding,” said Mr. Beshear.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal group that represents several female track athletes in Connecticut, urged legislators to “swiftly overturn the governor’s veto.”

“We’ve seen increasing examples across the country of males dominating girls’ athletic competitions when competing as females, capturing championships, and shattering long-standing female track records,” said ADF senior counsel Emilie Kao. “By vetoing this bill, Gov. Beshear has chosen to reject fairness in sports for thousands of women and girls in Kentucky.”

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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