(INDIANAPOLIS) – Indiana has banned transgender girls from girls’ sports — and immediately sparked a lawsuit.
Indiana became the 17th state to pass restrict transgender athletes and the seventh this year, overriding Governor Holcomb’s veto of the bill. The 67-28 vote in the House and 32-15 tally in the Senate were identical to when legislators initially passed the bill in March, with the exception of a handful of legislators who were absent either for the original vote or for the override.
Whiteland Representative Michelle Davis (R), the bill’s author and a former Ball State basketball player, contends the law is necessary to protect girls’ sports and ensure a level playing field. Logansport Senator Stacey Donato (R) argues the physical advantages of athletes who were male at birth would make a mockery of girls’ competition.
The Indiana High School Athletic Association opposed the bill, noting it already has a longstanding and virtually never-used policy on transgender athletes, based on bone density, muscle mass and hormone levels.
All Democrats and a smattering of Republicans voted against the bill. Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) says the law will “throw children under the bus” who are already struggling with emotional issues related to their gender identity. And Indianapolis Senator Fady Qaddoura (D), the only Muslim in the General Assembly, says his daughters at one point were barred from participating in sports because they chose to wear a traditional head scarf.
“The history of our nation is that any time government got to decide who is a full citizen, we failed miserably,” Qaddoura said.
The law is scheduled to take effect July 1. But 20 minutes after legislators completed the veto override, the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit on behalf of a 10-year-old Indianapolis softball player. Attorneys say she played on her elementary school team last year without incident — the law would block her from playing this year.
Courts have blocked similar laws in Idaho and West Virginia.
Indiana becomes the 17th state to restrict transgender athletes, and the seventh this year. Republicans maintain the bill is necessary to preserve competition in girls’ sports. Democrats call the bill discriminatory and a sign legislators’ priorities are backwards. Courts have blocked two of those 17 laws, and the ACLU filed suit minutes after the final vote asking to block this one.
Except for absences, the final votes in the House and Senate were identical to those cast in March, before Governor Holcomb vetoed the bill. Democrats charge the bill is both a slap in the face to transgender kids, and a waste of time legislators could have spent on issues from attacking gas prices to improving child care. The law has drawn an immediate court challenge.