GOP Turn on Indiana Gov. Holcomb After He Stops Transgender Athlete Ban

A number of Indiana Republicans have hit out at GOP Gov. Eric Holcomb's decision to veto a bill which would have banned transgender females from taking part in girls' school sports.

Holcomb, going against other Republican governors who have signed similar laws in 11 other states, announced he would be intervening in the legislation on Monday.

In a letter, Holcomb explained that the proposed law—House Bill 1041—would likely be challenged in courts and currently "falls short" in its aim to provide clarity on how it would provide fairness for K-12 sports in Indiana.

"It implies that the goals of consistency and fairness in competitive female sports are not currently being met," Holcomb said. "After thorough review, I find no evidence to support either claim even if I support the overall goal." There had been no recorded cases of transgender athletes trying to join girls' teams, he said.

Tweeting in response, Indiana Republican Sen. Mike Braun said: "Girls' sports should be for girls, and allowing biological males to compete with them robs female athletes of a chance to compete and win."

"I'm disappointed Governor Holcomb vetoed a bill to make this law in Indiana, and I support a veto override to protect women's athletics," he said.

Jim Banks, the GOP congressman representing Indiana's 3rd district, wrote on Twitter: "I'm disappointed with Gov. Holcomb's veto of a common sense bill that frankly doesn't go far enough to Save Women's Sports.

"My hope is that the Indiana General Assembly will meet soon to override the veto and send a message to the rest of the nation that Indiana values women."

In reply, Indiana state representative Martin Carbaugh tweeted: "Believe me...I will be there to override. You are 100% correct congressman!"

Rep. Jackie Walorski, a Republican representing Indiana's 2nd District, wrote: "I understand firsthand the importance of protecting athletic opportunities for girls and women. I'm disappointed Governor Holcomb vetoed key protections for girls' and women's sports in Indiana."

Despite criticism of Holcomb from within his own party, others praised him for vetoing the bill which critics argue was attempting to fix a problem that did not exist.

In a statement to local media, Mike Schmuhl, chair of the Indiana Democratic Party, said the bill would have "put the lives of our children in jeopardy" and was more about "fulfilling a made up culture war" than creating a better future for students.

"This unnecessary debate has set a tone with kids that being transgender means something is wrong with them. It must be said that nothing is wrong and being transgender is exactly how God created you and is exactly who you are born to be," Schmuhl said.

Cathryn Oakley, the state legislative director at the LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, said Holcomb "did the right thing" by vetoing a bill that would "cause problems, not solve them" by targeting Indiana's transgender children.

"The bill's proponents could not summon even a single example where someone was impacted as a result of transgender students participating in school sports, which they've done for decades across the country," Oakley said.

The Indiana chapter of the civil rights nonprofit American Civil Liberties Union, which threatened to sue if the bill passed, said: "This victory belongs to the trans youth of Indiana, who deserve to live as their authentic selves and to play the sports they love, free from discrimination.

"This win wouldn't have been possible without the thousands of Hoosiers who voiced their strong opposition to state legislators and who showed up at the Statehouse to oppose this harmful bill."

The move to veto the bill arrived as the debate over transgender youths' right to compete in women's sport was reignited following swimmer Lia Thomas' NCAA victory on March 17.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, 147 items of "anti-transgender legislation" were introduced across the country in 2021, nearly double the 79 recorded in 2020.

Gov. Holcomb's office was contacted for comment.

 Eric Holcomb transgender bill
Eric Holcomb, Governor of the State of Indiana is seen before the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Purdue Boilermakers game at Notre Dame Stadium on September 18, 2021 in South Bend, Indiana. Republicans have criticized Gov. Holcomb after he vetoed a bill banning transgender females from participating in girls' school sports. Michael Hickey/Getty Images