Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb – a Republican – rejected the Indiana legislature’s bill barring transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports. This comes as Republican states countrywide have intensified their efforts to protect the integrity of women’s sports.
Should it have been passed, HB 1041 would have prohibited “a male, based on the student’s biological sex at birth in accordance with the student’s genetics and reproductive biology, from participating on an athletic team or sport designated as being a female, women’s or girls’ athletic team or sport.”
However, in a statement, Governor Holcomb noted that he didn’t see an existing problem. “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,” said Holcomb.
He would go on to add that the bill “implies that the goals of consistency and fairness in competitive female sports are not currently being met.” Crucially, Holcomb noted that after a thorough review, he found “no evidence to support either claim, even if I support the overall goal.”
Holcomb further raised concerns about the standards imposed on K-12 schools. “The wide-open nature of the grievance provisions in HEA 1041 that apply to all K-12 schools in Indiana makes it unclear about how consistency and fairness will be maintained for parents and students across different counties and school districts,” said Holcomb.
Democratic lawmakers across Indiana were enthused at the governor’s decision. Mike Schmuhl, Chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party, said: “It’s encouraging to see Governor Eric Holcomb tell his party that their culture wars have crossed the line. Signing House Bill 1041 would have put the lives of our children in jeopardy.”
Schmuhl would go on to contend that “it must be said that nothing is wrong and being transgender is exactly how God created you and is exactly who you are born to be. Indiana Democrats value and will advocate for the state’s transgender community, because they have a place in our state and future just as everyone else.”
The Republican-controlled Indiana legislature has already announced its intentions to override the governor’s veto. Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston said Tuesday that the “fundamental goal of this legislation is to protect competition in girls’ sports, and House Republicans will vote to override this veto when lawmakers meet again on May 24.”
Indiana is one of only six states that requires a mere simple majority to override a governor’s veto. Republicans have supermajorities in both the Indiana State House and Senate, meaning HB 1041 will almost certainly become law when the legislature reconvenes.
Similar legislation has been brought forth in over a dozen states, with some states such as Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, and others having already passed measures to curb transgender athletes’ ability to engage in athletic events.
Indiana’s bill comes at a time when there is an intense debate nationwide regarding whether biological men should enjoy a place competing in women’s sports. For instance, University of Penn swimmer Lia Thomas – a biological man competing as a woman – has frequently dominated swimming competitions, robbing biological women such as Reka Gyorgy of the opportunity to compete.
Top Republicans including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis have said that in allowing men to compete in women’s sports, the NCAA is “destroying opportunities for women, making a mockery of its championships, and perpetuating a fraud. He would further contend that he does not recognize Lia Thomas as the winner of the women’s 500m freestyle, but 2nd place finisher, Emma Weyant.