Wyoming Bans Males in Girls’ Sports Without Governor Signature

The Republican governor admitted he has concerns about the bill.

  • Wyoming Republican Governor Mark Gordon allowed a bill banning biological males from girls’ sports to pass without his signature.
  • “Understanding the political reality that will prolong these very divisive debates, I am willing to let this pass into law without benefit of my signature,” the governor wrote in a letter.
  • The bill passed both the House and Senate in a landslide vote.
  • The bill requires school athletic teams to select athletes based on sex, defining sex as “the biological, physical condition of being male or female, determined by an individual’s genetics and anatomy at birth.”
  • “A student of the male sex shall not compete, and a public school shall not allow a student of the male sex to compete, in an athletic activity or team designated for students of the female sex,” according to the bill.
  • Republican Wyoming state Senator Wendy Schuler, the bill’s sponsor, told the House Education Committee last month that “fairness goes out the window if they’re [transgender athletes] allowed to compete against females in the female lane.”
  • The bill takes effect on July 1, 2023.
  • In a letter to Wyoming Secretary of State Chuck Gray, Governor Mark Gordon expressed his fear that the transgender ban in girls’ sports is “overly draconian.”
  • “First, while I support and agree with the overall goal of fairness in competitive female sports, I am concerned that the ban included in this legislation is overly draconian, is discriminatory without attention to individual circumstances or mitigating factors, and pays little attention to fundamental principles of equality,” the governor wrote.
  • The letter added, “Nevertheless, while I freely acknowledge the intent of this legislation is well-meaning as a way to protect the integrity and fairness of women’s sports in our state, by enacting an outright ban on transgender individuals participating in sports teams I believe Wyoming sends a harmful message that these individuals and their families do not deserve the same opportunities as others.”
  • “With several lawsuits being litigated across the country, we know that, if implemented, SEA 0092 is an invitation for a lawsuit,” the governor continued, explaining why he chose not to sign the bill. “It is difficult for me to sign legislation into law that knowingly will cost the State and taxpayers money to litigate and may be challenged under Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.”
  • In January, a West Virginia judge upheld the state’s Save Women’s Sports Act, separating sports teams on biological sex rather than gender identity.
  • The judge noted in his decision that “on average, males outperform females athletically due to inherent physical differences between the sexes.”
  • “The state is permitted to legislate sports rules on this basis because sex, and the physical characteristics that flow from it, are substantially related to athletic performance and fairness in sports,” Judge Joseph R. Goodwin said.