He joins two other governors in vetoing the bans.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear on Wednesday vetoed a bill banning transgender women and girls from playing on school sports teams that match their gender identity from sixth grade through college.
Under the proposed bill, students would play on teams based on their sex assigned at birth.
Beshear, who is a Democrat, joins two Republican governors who have vetoed similar bills in Utah and Indiana. In his veto letter, he said he shared their concerns that the bills could provoke state lawsuits and harm transgender people.
“Transgender children deserve the efforts of public servants to demonstrate that they are valued members of our communities through compassion, kindness and empathy, even if they are not understanding,” the governor said.
Beshear also pointed to the Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s transgender participation policy, which requires trans student-athletes to undergo hormone therapy after puberty to minimize potential gender-related benefits.
KHSAA policy states that the organization “recognizes and promotes the ability of transgender student-athletes to participate in privileged interscholastic sports and athletic activities without unlawful discrimination based on sexual orientation.”
However, Senate Bill 83 — the Women’s Sports Equity Act — passed the Kentucky Legislature on March 24 with a GOP majority that could overturn Beshear’s decision.
Those who support these policies, such as the bill’s sponsor, Senator Robby Mills, have said they believe transgender women have a biological advantage over cisgender women.
“It would be overwhelming for a young woman to train her entire career only to end up competing against a biological male in the state tournament or the state finals,” Mills said during the Senate debate on the law Project.
There has been “no direct or consistent research” that shows trans people have an advantage over their cisgender peers in athletics, according to a review in the journal Sports Medicine of several research studies of the potential benefits.
LGBTQ advocates applauded Beshear’s decision, saying the lawmakers behind the bill were bullying transgender youth.
“From the beginning, this bill has been more about fear than fairness,” said Chris Hartman, executive director of Kentucky’s LGBTQ+ advocacy group, the Fairness Campaign.
He continued, “In the entire Kentucky school system, there is only one openly transgender girl that we know of who plays on a school sports team. This student started her school’s field hockey team. , has recruited all the other team members and just wants the opportunity to play with his friends in his eighth year.”