The Republican-controlled Kansas state legislature has overridden a veto by Gov. Laura Kelly (D) to enact a law that will block transgender girls and women in the state from participating in sports that correspond with their gender.
GOP lawmakers had been attempting to pass a trans sports ban for nearly three years, but Kelly vetoed the legislation every time. This week, however, Republicans — joined by one Democratic lawmaker — overrode her most recent block of the bill.
“It sort of breaks my heart,” Kelly said in response to the override. “It certainly is disappointing.”
Parents of trans children in the state expressed deep worry over the bill’s passage.
“It’s a scary time to be raising a trans child in Kansas. We may face the very real threat of having to move,” Cat Poland, a lifelong Kansan and the parent of a transgender teenager, told PBS NewsHour.
Anti-trans lawmakers “just keep taking the next, the next step, the next step, until where are trans people supposed to go? Where can they can exist to be safe and live happy and fulfilling lives?” she went on.
In her veto message last month, Kelly said that the trans sports ban was “all about politics,” adding that restrictions on trans athletes will “harm the mental health of our students.”
The new law will only allow trans girls and women in the state to participate in sports if they play on male teams. The bill does not ban trans boys or men from participating in men’s sports, as the bill’s supporters cynically claim that it is meant to “protect” female athletes — an especially disingenuous argument given that female athletes could potentially be subject to intrusive exams under the new law.
“The sports ban has never sincerely been about protecting women’s sports,” said Micah Kubic, the executive director of the ACLU of Kansas. “Rather, it arises out of the same gender discrimination, stereotyping, and paternalism that has held back progress for cisgender women athletes for centuries, and will now open up all girls and women to potentially invasive examinations just to be able to participate.”
Many critics of the law have pointed out that its enforcement could require “genital inspections” of student athletes, including children, who are suspected to be transgender — a process that could be traumatizing. During discussion on how the law’s provisions would be enforced, Rep. Barbara Wasinger, the Republican sponsor of the legislation, said that it would require athletes who don’t provide a birth certificate to undergo a “sports physical.”
When asked if that would mean a genital inspection requirement, the GOP lawmaker said she couldn’t “recall” if that was the case.
State legislatures, particularly those controlled by Republicans, have introduced more than 450 anti-LGBTQ bills since the start of this year, many of them targeting transgender youth, including trans sports bans, trans bathroom bans, and restrictions on gender-affirming care, which advocates say is often life-saving.
“This is an organized attack on queer rights with the ultimate goal of elimination,” said Allison Chapman, a legislative researcher and advocate for trans rights.
Trans advocates and their allies have responded to far right legislative attacks by organizing demonstrations across the country — including in Topeka, Kansas, Truthout’s Zane McNeill has reported.
“We are here and we will not allow ourselves to be erased,” the Trans Radical Activist Network said in response to the myriad of bills attacking trans people.
Not everyone can pay for the news. But if you can, we need your support.
Truthout is widely read among people with lower incomes and among young people who are mired in debt. Our site is read at public libraries, among people without internet access of their own. People print out our articles and send them to family members in prison — we receive letters from behind bars regularly thanking us for our coverage. Our stories are emailed and shared around communities, sparking grassroots mobilization.
We’re committed to keeping all Truthout articles free and available to the public. But in order to do that, we need those who can afford to contribute to our work to do so.
We’ll never require you to give, but we can ask you from the bottom of our hearts: Will you donate what you can, so we can continue providing journalism in the service of justice and truth?