On Tuesday, Republican Governor Spencer Cox vetoed a bill that would have banned transgender athletes from participating in girls’ high-school sports. Eleven red states have passed such laws in recent years, as the issue of trans athletes has become red meat for the Republican base. (Another Republican governor, Indiana’s Eric Holcomb, vetoed a similar bill this week.)
In a long and heartfelt note explaining his decision, Cox displayed an attitude rare for his party. He wrote that while signing the bill would be politically expedient for him, the incidence of trans women competing with men is extremely rare — he emphasized that there were only four cases in the state — and that the issue should be treated with nuance and empathy: “I struggle to understand so much of it and the science is conflicting. When in doubt however, I always try to err on the side of kindness, mercy and compassion.”
As the New York Times notes, there were several factors that may have influenced Cox, including his personal sentiment about LGBTQ issues, the state legislature’s efforts to work around him, and concern over alienating business interests in the state.
Ultimately, his veto will likely be in vain. Utah’s legislature is expected to override it later this week.
Read Cox’s letter below: