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Tipsheet

GOP Indiana Governor Vetoes Bill Banning Biological Males from Women’s Sports

AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File

Republican Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb vetoed a bill, HEA 1041, on Monday, that would prohibit biological male athletes who identify as females from participating in women’s sports in schools. This comes at the same time as the controversy surrounding University of Pennsylvania swimmer William “Lia” Thomas’ participation in the NCAA swimming championships, where Thomas competed against biological females and won.

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A report from the Associated Press noted that Holcomb previously signaled support for the bill. In his veto letter, he wrote that the legislation “falls short” when it comes to fairness in K-12 sports in the state. He noted in the letter that other states that have enacted similar legislation have faced lawsuits, and that “the issues raised in these lawsuits” should have been brought forward to be addressed.

“Finally, the presumption of the policy laid out in HEA 1041 is that there is an existing problem in K-12 sports in Indiana that requires further state government intervention. It implies that the goals of consistency and fairness in competitive female sports are not currently being met. After thorough review, I find no evidence to support either claim even if I support the overall goal,” Holcomb wrote. Later in the letter, he claimed that “not a single case of a male seeking to participate on a female team has completed the process established by IHSAA’s [Indiana High School Athletic Association] now decade-old policy” surrounding transgender athletes.

Holcomb concluded that “amidst the flurry of enthusiasm, to protect the integrity and fairness of women’s sports in our state – a worthy cause for sure – this bill leaves too many unanswered questions.”

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AP noted in its report that Indiana state lawmakers can override Holcombs’ veto with simple majorities in the House and Senate. 

“A veto override vote could happen as soon as May 24, which legislative leaders have scheduled as a tentative one-day meeting,” the report stated.

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

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