The Republican governor of Indiana has vetoed a bill that would have prohibited biological males who identify as female to participate in female sporting competitions, expressing multiple concerns about the proposed legislation.
Gov. Eric Holcomb vetoed House Enrolled Act 1041 on Monday, explaining his reasoning in a letter to Indiana House of Representatives Speaker Todd Huston, also a Republican.
Holcomb expressed concern with the bill’s “wide-open nature of the grievance provisions,” believing they made it “unclear about how consistency and fairness will be maintained for parents and students across different counties and school districts.”
The governor worries about the potential for the bill to tie the state up in litigation. He noted that other states that have passed similar legislation had been sued, with some court decisions coming down in favor of the plaintiffs.
Holcomb believes that the Indiana High School Athletic Association is doing a sufficiently decent job maintaining fairness in student sports without the new law.
“I am heartened by the IHSAA which has done an admirable job to help maintain fairness and consistency in all sports,” wrote Holcomb. “Nowhere in the testimony on this legislation was a critique leveled against their model on how to govern this and other complex matters.”
“Furthermore, not a single case of a male seeking to participate on a female team has completed the process established by IHSAA’s now decade-old policy.”
Meridian Baldacci of the socially conservative Family Policy Alliance, which supported the legislation, contends in a statement that Holcomb has “abandoned young Hoosier girls” and left them susceptible to the “same fate” as female college swimmers who lost to trans-identified swimmer Lia Thomas in the NCAA 500-yard freestyle national championship this month.
While Thomas finished first by 1.75 seconds in the NCAA 500-yard freestyle, the athlete finished eighth in the 100-yard freestyle championship and fifth in the 200-yard freestyle final. Thomas is now a three-time All-American by competing in the finals of all three categories.
“Every time a male is awarded a limited girls’ roster spot, competition placement, scholarship, championship title or career opportunity, a female athlete has that same opportunity taken away from her – in a contest meant just for females,” stated Baldacci.
“The Indiana General Assembly must override this misguided and concerning veto from the governor of one of the most conservative states in the nation.”
Critics contend that biological males who identify as females have innate advantages from being biologically male and, on average, are larger with more muscle mass and higher bone density.
However, liberal organizations, like the American Civil Liberties Union, have denied that any “unfair” advantage exists for trans-identified biological males who compete against women or girls because “athletes vary in athletic ability just like cisgender athletes” and success often depends on techniques and training.
According to the LGBT activist group the Movement Advancement Project, 12 states have passed laws prohibiting men who identify as female from competing in sports designated for females. The others include Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.
Earlier this month, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a law requiring students to confirm their biological sex before being allowed to compete in girls’ sports.
“No amount of talent, training or effort can make up for the natural physical advantages males have over females. It’s simply a reality of human biology,” stated Reynolds. “Forcing females to compete against males is the opposite of inclusivity and it’s absolutely unfair.”
In 2021, the NCAA threatened not to host championship tournaments and contests in states that have passed laws impacting the ability of trans-identified athletes to compete based on their gender identity.
The success of Thomas, a biological male who competed previously on the Penn men’s swim team before competing this year on the women’s team, has sparked much debate about NCAA policies on trans-identified athletes.
Virginia Tech swimmer Reka Gyorgy, who missed the cut to compete in the 500-yard freestyle finals, voiced her displeasure with the NCAA’s policy. She wrote a letter to the NCAA on Sunday.
“It feels like the final spot was taken from me because of the NCAA’s decision to let someone who is not a biological female compete,” she wrote.
“I know you could say I had the opportunity to swim faster and make the top 16, but this situation makes it a bit different and I can’t help but be angry or sad. It hurts me, my team and other women in the pool. One spot was taken away from the girl who got 9th in the 500 free and din’t [sic] make it back to the A final preventing her from being an All-American. Every event that transgender athletes competed in was one spot taken away from biological females throughout the meet.”