The bill passed by both sides of the Kansas Legislature would make Kansas public schools and state college teams set up designations for sports based on biological sex: male, female or coed. It would ban any transgender athlete biologically born male from participating in women’s sports.
“This legislation sends a devastating message that Kansas is not welcoming to all children and their families, including those who are transgender — who are already at a higher risk of bullying, discrimination, and suicide,” Kelly said.
To override Kelly’s veto, the Legislature would need 27 votes in the Kansas Senate and 84 votes in the Kansas House. SB 55 previously passed 26 to 11 in the Senate and 76 to 43 in the House.
The governor has indicated previously she was against the proposed legislation, citing that it would cause mental harm to athletes and people identifying as transgender.
Kelly also previously touted similar legislation in another state that caused economic losses and reiterated potential business problems if passed in Kansas.
“This bill would also undoubtedly harm our ability to attract and retain businesses. It would send a signal to prospective companies that Kansas is more focused on unnecessary and divisive legislation, than strategic, pro-growth lawmaking,” said Kelly.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem vetoed similar legislation, but the legislature did not override her veto. The Republican instead signed two executive orders that “would protect fairness in girls’ and women’s sports at the K-12 and collegiate levels.”
Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas put laws on the books banning transgender women from competing in women’s sports in the last few months. West Virginia’s governor announced he would not oppose a measure put forward by the state’s legislature.
NewsNation affiliate KNST contributed to this report.