Kansas becomes latest state to approve trans sports ban – but it’s unlikely to become a realty

A person holds up a sign reading "let kids be kids" in front of the colours of the transgender pride flag

Kansas lawmakers have sent a cruel bill banning trans girls and women from playing on school sports teams matching their gender identity to the governor’s desk. 

The bill would prevent trans students from participating in girls’ and women’s sports at publicly-funded schools from elementary through to college, Kansas Reflector reported

The proposed legislation was approved on Saturday (2 April) in the state House with a 74-39 vote, the Associated Press. It was also passed by Conservative lawmakers in the state Senate with a 25-13 vote. 

The bill now heads to Kansas governor Laura Kelly’s desk to be vetoed or signed into law. 

However, it is unlikely the Democrat governor will approve the bill as she vetoed similar legislation last year, and conservative lawmakers fell one vote short of overriding Kelly’s veto in the Senate. 

The new bill would face similar challenges as it has not garnered a two-thirds majority of votes in either the Kansas House or Senate, according to the Associated Press

Democrat representative Heather Meyer said the bill will hurt “real children” like her own young trans child.  

Meyer warned the bill is “only going to hurt” LGBT+ youth by attempting to “push them into the closet”, “have them consider suicide” and “put them at a higher risk for violence”. 

“This is my child, and I’m going to stand up for them,” Meyer said. “I’m going to stand up for their friends. I’m going to stand up for their peers.”

She continued: “I’m going to make sure that we continue to protect them from legislation like this.”

Tom Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas, added that the organisation is “deeply worried” for the “safety and welfare” of trans kids “who are hearing themselves being attacked and erased on the six o’clock news every day”, the Kansas City Star reported. 

“This just gives licence to people that they’re in context with on a daily basis, particularly at school, to say, ‘You don’t belong here’,” Witt said. 

In 2022, five states have enacted such legislation with bans in IowaUtahOklahoma and Arizona being passed into law in March alone. 

In March, Indiana governor Eric Holcomb vetoed legislation that would have banned trans students from competing in girls’ and women’s sports at school. 

Holcomb argued the bill wouldn’t fix an existing issue in the state, and its current wording “falls short” of providing a consistent statewide policy which could leave schools at risk of potential lawsuits. 

Lawmakers in Indiana could potentially override Holcomb’s veto when they next meet in May.