Dalila Ali Rajah
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Utah Lawmakers Override Gov.'s Veto & Pass Anti-Trans Sports Bill

Gov. Cox (L) and Rep. Kera Birkeland

Utah lawmakers voted Friday to override Republican Gov. Spencer Cox’s veto of anti-trans sports legislation that will ban trans youth from playing on girls’ sports teams.

Prior to Cox’s veto, the bill received support from a majority of Utah lawmakers, however, it didn’t meet the two-thirds threshold to override it. According to the Associated Press, sponsors of the bill were able to flip 10 GOP lawmakers in the House and five in the Senate who previously voted against the ban.

On Tuesday, Cox became the second Republican governor this week to veto his state’s anti-trans sports bill, which targeted trans girls from participating in school sports.

In his veto letter to lawmakers, he called attention to the mental health impact the law would have on trans youth.

The Utah governor shared the letter on Twitter. “I know most won’t read past a headline but please read my veto letter—especially if you disagree with me. The veto will be overridden on Friday and then we will have a special session to fix a few things. Trans sports is a terribly difficult issue,” he wrote. “Please be kind to everyone.”

The state’s business leaders said that the ban could have a multimillion-dollar economic impact, including losing the NBA All-Star Game next year, the AP reports.

With the override, Utah has become the 12th state to enact some type of ban on trans kids playing in sports. The law will go into effect on July 1.

Lawmakers, including Republican sponsor Rep. Kera Birkeland, had previously been considering a bill that would set up a commission to determine trans student athletes’ eligibility to compete under their gender identity. It had passed the House in February and moved to the Senate, and it had the governor’s support, while LGBTQ+ advocates worried it would still marginalize young trans people. However, the total ban was introduced by GOP lawmakers four hours before the end of the state’s legislative session, upending a year of negotiations between Utah lawmakers and LGBTQ+ rights advocates. 

In Arizona and Oklahoma, lawmakers approved multiple harmful anti-LGBTQ+ bills, which especially targeted trans youth.

Tags: Law, Utah

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