Governor Spencer Cox (R-UT) spoke publicly about his concerns over state lawmakers’ efforts to advance legislation protecting female high school and college athletes competing in sports against transgender women.
House Bill 302 passed with a 50-23 vote last week, and it will advance to the state Senate despite Cox’s effort to undermine the legislation.
The Republican sponsor of the bill, State Representative Kera Birkeland, said in a Facebook video that it is “very important to me that we have an even playing field for our women.”
“Cox said he was hoping for a better solution than an outright ban and would meet with Birkeland, who has also served as a high school basketball and football referee,” Fox News reported.
“I think there’s still much that we can do to protect women’s sports and also, to send a message to trans kids that there’s a place for them, and that they belong,” Cox said at a news conference. “And that’s really important to me that they know that.”
At his monthly news conference, @GovCox said the way a current bill on banning transgender girls from high school sports stands, he wouldn't sign it if it was placed on his desk. He says the bill's complicated, and both sides of the issue are right. https://t.co/KJ4fDxYR2c #utpol pic.twitter.com/7xi1cN63Ck
— PBS Utah (@pbsutah) February 18, 2021
Cox started to choke up at the press conference. He apologized for getting emotional and said, “When you spend time with these [Trans] kids, it changes your heart.”
“These kids are … they’re just trying to stay alive,” he said. “There’s a reason none of them are playing sports and…I just think there’s a better way. And I hope that there will be enough grace in our state to find a better solution.”
Cox has threatened to veto another bill — HB 92 — which would prohibit doctors from prescribing puberty blockers and performing life-altering gender reassignment surgery on minors.
“We have to be really, really careful anytime government gets in between doctors, families, and patients,” Cox said in the Fox News report.
Until this veer left, Utah conservatives were praising Cox for signing a gun rights bill into law. Two weeks ago, Cox signed legislation to abolish the requirement that law-abiding citizens acquire a concealed carry permit in order to carry a concealed handgun for self-defense.
Four states have pending legislation banning transgender athletes from competing based on their gender identity. These bills come in response to President Joe Biden’s Executive Order, Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation.