Campaigners claim sports ban would ‘erase’ transgender female athletes as veto fails by one vote despite Caitlyn Jenner support
A transgender lawmaker who claimed a conservative bill to keep trans athletes out of women’s sports would have stopped them from being their “authentic” selves has earned a one-vote win, narrowly avoiding a veto being overturned.
Democratic governor Laura Kelly vetoed a proposed ban on transgender athletes in girls’ and women’s sports in Kansas, but Conservative Republicans wanted to overturn the move and had momentum through the success of similar initiatives in other states.
Caitlyn Jenner, the hugely-followed reality TV sensation and former Olympic decathlon champion, had also spoken in favor of a ban despite Kelly’s intervention, calling it a “question of fairness” for competitors.
The state Senate ultimately voted 26-14 in favor of blocking the vote, meaning supporters fell a single vote short of the necessary two-thirds majority required to launch a vote in the House.
The people of Kansas, including the LGBTQ Kansans, won today. #ksleg 🏳️🌈🏳️⚧️
Thank you to the bipartisan group of Kansas Senators who said NO to discrimination, bullying, and hate today. https://t.co/JvgNaO6TwZ
— Brandon Woodard (@Woodard4Kansas) May 3, 2021
Thank you to the Kansas Senators who voted to sustain the veto on SB55! You were loud and clear in telling kids, we got your back!
— Rep. Susan Ruiz (@SusanRuiz_KS23) May 3, 2021
“The fact that we have people who are willing to step up and say, ‘no, we’re not going to discriminate in Kansas, we’re not going to let this go through, we’re going to sustain the governor’s veto fills my heart so much,” responded Stephanie Byers, a Wichita Democrat who addressed the hearing.
“We live in a country [where] we’re watching as our society evolves, we move forward… and it’s going to keep rolling because, as a country, we are more loving and accepting.
“We’re not going to legislate discrimination here. It’s going to be tough thing to fight, but we’re always going to do it.”
Today I vetoed the divisive transgender sports bill so we can keep our state welcoming to all Kansans and keep our state open for business. See my full statement below: pic.twitter.com/fO6EkBXN0n
— Governor Laura Kelly (@GovLauraKelly) April 22, 2021
Another win for the Male/testicles/deep voice /XY chromosomes/ brute strength column…🤘🤘🤘🤘🤘 🔥🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/gaE08ofMqA
— President Elect Eli M. (@elijahjamesmeza) April 23, 2021
Many states, including Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee, have made bans law, while a legislature with Republican supermajorities also failed to override a similar governor’s veto in North Dakota last month.
“No one can accuse [Jenner] of being anti-trans or interested in causing suicides, or whatever accusation they had of me for that,” Senate President Ty Masterson, a Republican, told reporters before the razor-thin vote, while one of his colleagues, Senator Renee Erickson, said Kelly had shown her “true, far-left leanings.”
“I think if we make it about what it truly is – protecting those opportunities for girls – those are Kansas values. At the end of the day, it will hurt the governor politically.”
More perspective, Kaarsten Braasch beat both the Williams sisters in the same afternoon even though he ranked somewhere in the 200’s, where as the Williams sisters where ranked significantly higher. Compare the physical builds between Serena and Braasch, Serena is much bulkier.
— Rivet Head (@XRivetHeadX) April 23, 2021
I must admit I haven’t read the bill, but I don’t believe anybody is excluded from competing. But if you have an X & Y chromosome, you should complete against humans that also have an X & Y chromosome.
— Mitchell Long (@mitchelllong43) April 23, 2021
There were reportedly tears of relief after the vote. “After a long reputation of being anti-LGBT, this state is making progress on rights for LGBT people and it’s making progress on rights for transgender people,” said Tom Witt, the executive director of the rights group Equality Kansas, echoing Kelly’s description of the proposed ban as “regressive”.
Senator David Haley, a Democrat who openly admitted how fraught he was finding it to make a decision when he spoke, cast the decisive vote.
“This is probably one of the most difficult votes I’ve had to take because the issues are so well-reasoned on both sides,” he said.
Pretty sure not allowing women to have the best chance to win in their sport goes directly against Title 9…what am I missing?
— James Samorian (@JJSamorian) April 22, 2021
What about the rights of the girls who are born females ( ie have a uterus) to compete in a fair sport. Born males ( ie without uterus) have a huge physical advantage. Be fair to females 😡
— M. H (@markgeorgehann1) April 24, 2021
The critical factor may have been a concern that leading sports bodies would have shunned Kansas as a host venue for tournaments.
In her impassioned testimony, Byers said: “My native American ancestors survived bounties that were placed upon them.
“Our ways of marriage were forbidden, our culture forbidden – all in an attempt to systematically erase us because we were different from mainstream America.
— Jake Brents (@JakeofAura) April 22, 2021
Were they not always included? Nobody suggested they could not participate.
How will girls feel when they are beaten with no chance of being competitive?
— thorts (@shortthorts) April 23, 2021
“In Kansas, since 2016, there have been four bills passed that would put bounties on the heads of trans schoolchildren, other bills that would have mocked our marriages and, recently, a bill that would make it a felony to provide life-saving medication to trans youth.
“This bill would ban trans girls from affirming their identity through sports – thereby erasing them. Trans kids thrive when their identity is affirmed but it’s not always an easy path.
“The emotional exhaustion of keeping who you are hidden, in a world that often goes out of its way to demonstrate you are not welcome, takes its toll.
The Kansas Senate sustained the Governor’s veto on SB 55 today (the anti-transgender sports bill). When you see the repeated attempts by the true originators of these bills- its not about sports, bathrooms, or marriage. It’s about legislating discrimination. Remember this in 2022
— Stephanie Byers (@ByersForKansas) May 3, 2021
Thank you to the statewide effort to reach legislators and encourage them to sustain the Governor’s veto. A BIG THANK YOU goes to those State Senators who, bipartisan, stood against discrimination today with their votes!
— Stephanie Byers (@ByersForKansas) May 3, 2021
“Affirmation helps relieve the anxiety and depression that far too often leads to suicide. When my trans students would hear their names called and their pronouns used, they would beam.
“It’s a tremendous feeling to not be invisible, but rather to be seen for who you truly are.
“Preventing students from playing sports as their authentic self gives one more proof that, in spite of who you know yourself to be, you are just unwanted.”
There are said to be five active transgender participants in extracurricular activities in the state, with no known case of a transgender athlete winning a Kansas championship.
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