Kansas Governor Kelly Veto’s Transgender Sports Ban for Third Year in a Row

For the third year in a row, Kansas Democratic Laura Kelly vetoed a bill banning transgender girls and women from girls’ and women’s sports teams in public schools.[0] The Republican party has the majority of both House and Senate members, but it is unknown if they have the 84 votes necessary to override the veto in the House of Representatives.[1] One Democrat joined Republicans in the House in passing the bill by an 82-40 margin on Feb. 23 and Republicans in the Senate, which needs 27 votes to override a veto, passed the bill by a 28-11 margin on March 9.[2]

On two occasions, Kelly has rejected similar bills and the legislators were unsuccessful in overturning her decision.[0] “Let’s be clear about what this bill is all about — politics,” she said.[2] This bill would not bring about any improvement in test scores, literacy, or the ability of teachers to equip our children for life. Rather, it would detrimentally affect the mental well-being of our students. That is why Republican governors have partnered with me in rejecting similar legislation.[2]

Dan Hawkins, the House Speaker from Wichita and a Republican, expressed that the bill is “common sense” and the chamber he presides over will be doing “every effort” to counteract the veto from the Governor.[3] He said the bill passed the House and Senate “with broad support to protect the rights of female athletes in the state by requiring that female student athletic teams only include members who are biologically female.”[4]

An amendment to Senate Bill 180, otherwise known as a “women’s bill of rights,” was added to classify intersex people and those born with sexual development differences as disabled and required to use separate bathrooms and locker rooms.[5]

Lawmakers have 30 days to try to override the veto, before the end of the regular session on April 6.[2] On March 6, 2023, Rija Nazir of Loud Light joined a rally at the Statehouse in support of bodily autonomy.[2] She states that the legislation aimed at transgender athletes was not about sports.[2]

The debate over House Bill 2238 has sparked opposition from both sides, as some argue it would reverse progress made in recruiting businesses and creating jobs, while others contend it would protect the rights of female athletes assigned female at birth.

0. “Kansas Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly again vetoes bill banning transgender girls from girls' sports” KMUW, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.kmuw.org/2023-03-17/kansas-democratic-gov-laura-kelly-again-vetoes-bill-banning-transgender-girls-from-girls-sports

1. “Gov. Kelly Vetoes Ban on Transgender Athletes in Female Sports. GOP Has 2/3 Majority to Override” KFDI, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.kfdi.com/2023/03/17/gov-kelly-vetoes-ban-on-transgender-athletes-in-female-sports-gop-has-2-3-majority-to-override

2. “Kansas governor vetoes legislation banning transgender athletes from school sports” KPVI News 6, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.kpvi.com/news/national_news/kansas-governor-vetoes-legislation-banning-transgender-athletes-from-school-sports/article_5c463d41-be8f-5ea2-af72-d737b2441f45.html

3. “Gov. Laura Kelly vetoes transgender athletes ban in women's sports” The Topeka Capital-Journal, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.cjonline.com/story/news/state/2023/03/17/gov-laura-kelly-vetoes-transgender-athletes-ban-in-womens-sports/70020532007/

4. “Governor Kelly vetoes House Bill 2238” WIBW, 18 Mar. 2023, https://www.wibw.com/2023/03/17/governor-kelly-vetoes-transgender-bill/

5. “Kansas lawmakers classify women born with sexual development issues as disabled in revised bill” The Lawrence Times, 17 Mar. 2023, https://lawrencekstimes.com/2023/03/17/ksleg-classify-women-bill/