Gov. Mark Gordon allowed a ban on tran girls in middle and high school sports to become law late Friday night, joining a growing number of states limiting transgender students in athletic competition.
Gordon waited out the clock till the final hours. He had about 24 hours left to veto any legislation that came out of the Legislative session that ended March 3.
In a three-page letter to Secretary of State Chuck Gray, the governor said that he was letting what opponents have called "anti-trans" legislation become law without his signature.
"While I support and agree with the overall fairness in competitive female sports, I am concerned that the ban included in this legislation is overly draconian, is discriminatory without attention to individual circumstances or mitigating factors, and pays little attention to fundamental principles of equality."
On the other side of the issue, he said, his "heart goes out" to any student who would be denied a scholarship or "competitive berth" on their team if "another sex enjoyed an unfair advantage.
"There are victims on both sides of any action, which is why I believe a commission that can fully consider the implications and factors at play in each situation, such as the one contemplated in the second part of SEA 00092, offers a superior course of action."
The commission Gordon referenced is a provision of the legislation that takes into account the possibility of the ban being struck down or overruled in court. In that case, the Wyoming High School Activities Association would appoint a five-member board made up of a parent of a current student, a mental health professional, a current or former athletic director or coach and two at-large members. Trans girls would have to appeal their case to the board to be allowed to participate.
This work-around was copied from legislation that passed in Utah last year. A national ban on athletes competing on a team different from their gender assigned at birth — an attempt to amend Title IX — passed the U.S. House Education and Workforce Committee Thursday.
The legislation was opposed by LGBTQ+ advocates across the state who said the message was unnecessarily harmful to trans students, queer youth and their families, and will cost taxpayers if litigated under Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reported that queer advocates from Wyoming Equality, together with families of impacted students, would be pursuing a lawsuit.
Supporters of Jackson Hole Pride and Shelter Jackson Hole gathered at Kalu Wednesday night to write postcards to gender-diverse kids and their parents and caregivers across the state, no matter the outcome of the legislation.
Gov. Gordon's full letter is attached to this article.
This article has been updated to clarify that the ban applies to trans girls in grades seven through 12 and that the appeals commission for trans girls would be created only if a court were to block or overrule the ban. — Eds.
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