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Why Kansas' anti-trans bill may be too bigoted to prevail

Even some Republicans are taking issue with the bill, which seeks to bar trans girls from participating in girls' school sports.


On Saturday, Kansas' GOP-controlled Legislature passed a new bill attacking transgender athletes. But the bill, which would bar trans girls from participating in girls' school sports, appears doomed to fail given the bipartisan concerns about its impact. 

The bill lacks a veto-proof majority needed to overcome a potential veto from Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly, who struck down a similar measure last year.

As a send-up to the old political adage “too big to fail,” I’ve begun calling sweeping, hateful laws imperiled by their own grotesqueness “too bigoted to prevail.”

Kansas’ bill fits the description.

The proposed legislation would impact kids as early as elementary school. And despite the relatively small number of trans girls participating in sports, Republicans across the country have become obsessively focused on laws antagonizing trans people — especially trans athletes — to shore up support from the conservative base ahead of the November midterms. 

According to The Associated Press, the law’s application to some young children is, surprisingly, a hang-up for some Kansas Republicans: 

“[E]nough GOP lawmakers in Kansas keep breaking with Republican colleagues that LGBTQ-rights advocates probably will prevail for a second consecutive year. Several of those dissident Republicans said having a ban apply as early as kindergarten is a problem for them.”

After vetoing a similar bill last year, Kelly warned that such 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."

The evidence supporting her claim is clear. In 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that almost half of all transgender students — 43 percent — experienced bullying on school property, compared to 18 percent of cisgender students. That same study found 29 percent of transgender youth have attempted suicide, compared to 7 percent of cisgender youth. 

And aside from the moral repercussions of passing this hateful legislation, Kansas could run into some financial ones, as well. 

Last year, amid a flurry of state-level anti-trans bills, the NCAA issued a warning that future tournaments might be pulled from states that pass discriminatory legislation. In Kansas, where “Rock Chalk Jayhawk” is gospel, that warning set off alarm bells for some.

Whatever the reason this time around, this latest anti-trans bill is almost certainly headed for failure as currently written.