Indiana lawmakers send trans girls sports ban to governor

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Indiana lawmakers gave final approval Tuesday to a Republican-backed bill that would ban transgender women and girls from participating in school sports that match their gender identity, sending it to the governor to decide whether it will become law.

The state Senate voted 32-18 largely along party lines in favor of the proposal that opponents argue is unconstitutional, sexist and bigoted. If Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb signs the bill into law, Indiana would join at least 10 other GOP-led states that have adopted such bans. Holcomb’s other options are to veto the bill or let it pass into law without his signature.

The governor’s office declined to comment after the bill passed Tuesday.

Holcomb told reporters last week that he would wait to see the final version before making a decision. He said he “adamantly” agrees that “boys should be playing boys sports and girls should be playing girls sports, and mixed sports should be just that,” referring to a person’s gender at birth.

The governor also pointed to the Indiana High School Athletic Association, which already has a policy covering transgender students, saying it has had no transgender girls finalize a request to play on a girls’ team. Although an initial draft of the bill applied the ban to collegiate athletes, language pertaining to postsecondary intuitions was removed from the final version of the bill.

Neither the IHSAA nor the National Collegiate Athletic Association immediately responded to requests for comment.

Seven Republicans joined all 11 Democratic senators in voting against the bill. Those GOP senators were Ron Alting of Lafayette, Eric Bassler of Washington, Phil Boots of Crawfordsville, Liz Brown of Fort Wayne, Ed Charbonneau of Valparaiso, Chip Perfect of Lawrenceburg, and Greg Walker of Columbus.

Bill sponsor Sen. Stacey Donato, a Republican from Logansport, said the proposal would protect the integrity of female sports.

“Whether there is one or 100 cases (of transgender students participating in school sports) … all students will be able to play sports,” Donato said. “They simply have to compete with peers of the same biological sex.”

Opponents maintain that the bill wrongly targets already vulnerable transgender youth and is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

IHSAA Commissioner Paul Neidig said the association has received and approved only one application for a transgender student to participate in school sports–a trans boy who wanted to run cross country.

“To me, this bill isn’t about fairness … it’s about being able to waive this bill in the air back in your district, saying that you did something on this topic,” Democratic Sen. J.D. Ford of Indianapolis said Tuesday, emphasizing that the measure is a vehicle to “score political points” at the expense of transgender children.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana has said it planned a lawsuit against what it calls “hateful legislation” if it becomes law. Katie Blair, ACLU of Indiana’s advocacy and public policy director, doubled down in a statement Tuesday that the legislation “is hateful, harmful, and appears to violate federal law and the Constitution.”

“This bill singles out trans girls by banning them from participating in girls’ sports, jeopardizing their mental health, physical well-being and ability to access educational opportunities comparable to their peers,” Blair said. “We won’t stop fighting for an Indiana where trans youth are loved and treated equally.”

Corrine Youngs, policy director and legislative counsel to Attorney General Todd Rokita, earlier testified at the Statehouse that Rokita’s office says the bill protects “the amazing progress made for women” in athletics, adding that if it’s challenged, “we will defend it in court.”

The proposal would prohibit K-12 students who were born male but identify as female from participating in a sport or on an athletic team that is designated for women or girls. But it wouldn’t prevent students who identify as female or transgender men from playing on men’s sports teams.

Rep. Michelle Davis, a Republican from Greenwood who authored the bill, said its purpose is to ensure “fair competition in girls sports.”

Former Indiana Republican Rep. Christy Stutzman proposed similar legislation in 2020, although the bill did not advance from the House education committee.

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5 thoughts on “Indiana lawmakers send trans girls sports ban to governor

  1. Excellent. There are two genders, and they have inherently different athletic abilities. If there’s any doubt, look between one’s legs.

    Quote: Blair said. “We won’t stop fighting for an Indiana where trans youth are loved and treated equally.”

    That’s right; give them the counseling and treatment they need to deal with their problem, not making it a problem for every female athlete in the state.

    1. Bob, if you are looking between children’s legs, then you have some seriously disturbing issues.

      There is no problem with kids playing sports. There is a huge problem with state legislators wasting the taxpayers’ money and time going after a tiny percentage of the child population who simply want to play sports. This is just an obvious effort to throw red meat at people’s prejudices, and it is as ugly as it is unnecessary.

      Hopefully, the Governor has enough sense and common decency to veto this legislation and steer the focus back to the real issues the state faces.

    2. I’m not looking between anyone’s legs, Christopher. Pay attention to what I said: Look between one’s own legs, not anyone else’s. Nice try, though. What does this have to do with prejudices, anyway? You’re the one who is confused, not me.

      I doubt you have any daughters who will be faced with confused males enjoying the privileges of being in girls’ locker rooms as “girls,” or suffer the humility of being defeated by boys with greater strength playing as girls.

      Hopefully, the Governor has the decency and common sense to see through the lunacy of arguments such as yours and sign the bill into law immediately.

    3. Hopefully the Governor vetos the bill since it’s a total waste of time.

      The IHSAA already has rules that mean you’ll never see “boys with greater strength playing as girls.”

      But folks like Bob ignore that no matter how many times you tell them.

  2. How much time did the lawmakers spend on this? Meanwhile, every state surrounding Indiana has landed multi billion dollar business investments with high paying jobs in the last year. Indiana lost the 10 billion micro chip plant to Ohio not because they have lower taxes than Indiana, they don’t. Indiana lost it because the GOP super majority running this stated don’t return anything to the people that are actually paying taxes. But heck yes we can trumpet the new cement slab warehouse with a few dozen low paying jobs from Amazon and win the culture wars.