FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Kentucky legislators voted Wednesday afternoon to override Governor Andy Beshear’s veto on Senate Bill 83. Senate Bill 83 bans transgender girls from playing on girls’ sports teams. The new law will affect trans-girls in grades six through 12 and college.
Leaders with the Fairness Campaign say being a preteen or teen is difficult for anyone, and being trans can be even more difficult. Transgender kids are more likely to struggle with mental health or even die by suicide. Sports can be an outlet and a way to socialize.
Fairness Campaign Board Member, Ruth Myers, says, "The legislator is sending a clear message to these youth that they are not valued, there is something wrong with them and there's not."
Former University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines advocates for changing transgender rules in NCAA competitions. In March of this year, Gaines tied for fifth in one of her 200-yard freestyle events with a transgender athlete. After the bill passed, Gaines said that she and other female athletes want people to live as they choose and to be treated with respect.
But, she says, "We cannot ignore the biological and anatomical differences between males and females that are blatantly obvious and scientifically proven. Things like heart size, lung size, which affects aerobic capacity, and larger and denser skeletal structures all play a factor. These things are particularly prominent with respect to activities where speed, size, power, and strength or cardiorespiratory characteristics are determinative of performance."
As Kentucky legislators discussed SB 83, those for the bill brought up points on the biological differences between athletes. This advocate says that science just doesn't hold up.
"They quote science. But science is actually not on their side," Myers explained. "Trans athletes who have been going through transition, who have been on hormone replacement therapy, do not have any physical advantage."
In her statements, Gaines says although hormonal suppression slowly decreases testosterone levels the advantages, she mentions in her statement do not go away. Ruth says everyone is different and, in some cases, transgender females' testosterone levels can even be lower than cis-gender females. For transgender people struggling with the outcome of this bill, Myers has this message.
"You're not alone. There are many people out here who care about you and the future is bright."