Kansas on Wednesday banned trans students from participating in women’s and girl’s sports from kindergarten through college, with the Republican-controlled legislature overriding a previous veto by the Democratic governor.
With a Republican supermajority, the legislature broke through Gov. Laura Kelly’s third veto of the bill in three years and passed legislation that they say establishes the “fairness in women’s sports act.”
With the vote on Wednesday, Kansas joined 19 other states that have passed bans on transgender student-athletes. HB 2238 restricts trans women and girls — but not trans men and boys — from participating in sports.
“It breaks my heart,” Kelly told reporters in Kansas City. “I’m sorry that they distracted themselves with this really awful bill.”
Many of the law’s opponents have said the ban will not only be discriminatory and create heightened scrutiny for trans and gender-nonconforming girls and women, but it will lead the state into murky waters in terms of how institutions handle enforcement.
“The sports ban has never sincerely been about protecting women’s sports,” said Micah Kubic, the executive director of the ACLU of Kansas, in a statement. “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.”
In a heated, 90-minute-long House meeting in February, Rep. Barbara Wasinger, who introduced the legislation earlier this year, was asked to explain how it would be enforced.
The Republican answered that enforcement would happen during a student-athlete’s “sports physical.” However when Wasinger was pressed further by a Democrat whether that meant a “genital inspection,” she said she couldn’t recall.