Indiana overrules governor’s veto, imposes ban on trans student-athletes

Transgender Sports-Indiana
Activists in Indianapolis lead a rally on May 24 denouncing transphobic legislation in Indiana.
Casey Smith/Report for America via AP

Weeks after Republican Governor Eric Holcomb of Indiana vetoed an anti-trans sports bill, defiant state lawmakers on May 24 voted to override him, making Indiana the latest state to bar student-athletes from participating in sports in accordance with their gender identity.

The latest vote came two months after state lawmakers first passed the bill, which specifically bans people assigned male at birth from playing in school sports designated for girls or women. Holcomb responded with a veto because he did not see evidence to support the purpose of the bill and had concerns about the likelihood of legal battles in the future.

Two months later, lawmakers fired back at the governor by re-affirming their previous vote. Indiana’s lower house voted 67-28 to override the veto, followed by a 32-15 margin in the State Senate.

Activists and state lawmakers denounced the legislative effort during a rally outside of the Capitol before the lawmakers voted to override the veto. Cathryn Oakley, who serves as the Human Rights campaign’s state legislative director in Indiana, tore into state lawmakers for working on the measure with the Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-LGBTQ organization known for pushing for homophobic and transphobic legislation across the country.

Earlier this year, more than three-dozen companies with significant business in Indiana criticized the state for the transphobic legislative push. Those businesses included Animal Health, Elanco, PepsiCo, and Salesforce — but that did not seem to faze lawmakers.

Indiana is now the second state since March to override a Republican governor’s veto of a bill banning trans student-athletes from participating in sports. GOP Governor Spencer Cox of Utah also vetoed an anti-trans sports bill, but state lawmakers rushed to override him.

State legislators in Kentucky also swiftly overrode Governor Andy Beshear of Kentucky, a Democrat, after he issued a veto of his state’s anti-trans sports ban.

A similar decision awaits Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards of Louisiana, who has been critical of efforts to pass an anti-trans sports bill in his state but has not yet declared whether he would move ahead with a veto. Both chambers of Louisiana’s State Legislature passed a bill barring trans athletes from school sports.