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Cox Vows to Veto Bill About Transgender Athletes

Recently, eleven states out of the union have all set in motion laws that will bar transgender athletes from participating in female sports teams. All of them have been Republican led. However, with Governor Cox in Utah, he is digging his heels into the argument that biological males should have full capacity to compete against biological women in sports. He would become the first governor of a Republican state legislator to prevent such a law set into motion from passing.

He vowed to veto the bill and in interviewing with the Salt Lake Tribune stated that “anyone that’s interacted with the transgender community understands how amazing they are and how difficult it can be for them.”

Governor Cox Speaking to the Press on March 11, 2022. Source: Salt Lake Tribune

Although it is always the case that suffering from the stress that is caused when you believe you were born in the wrong body is difficult, in this issue, it comes down to whether one can participate in sports of their personally claimed gender identity without regard for biological factors. This does not mean we are to demean or discriminate against those who are transgender. However, there are many other valid concerns people have about this issue. The bill’s main action in legislation is to prohibit “a student of the male sex from competing against another school on a team designated for female students.”

Many parents across the country have recently become concerned with the ramifications seen in situations where biological female and male students, no matter their gender identity, are interacting with each other in sex-specified locations. The Virginian gubernatorial race was largely impacted by investigative reporting done by the Daily Wire about a girl who reportedly was sexually assaulted by a transgender student in Loudon County. The Loudoun County School district in Virginia attempted to cover up the story, but in doing so caused a large backlash against them from parents. This incentivized Virginians to vote in Glenn Youngkin, the Republican candidate and now governor of Virginia.

In another newsworthy instance, more related to sports, Lia Thomas, who has previously competed as a man in college-level swimming, has now broken several women's swimming NCAA records. As well, according to the Daily Mail, teammates have reported that Thomas does not always cover up when changing, making others feel “uncomfortable in [their] own locker room.”

This all begs the question, what is more important: protecting the perceived gender identity of the transgender athlete, or the privacy and level playing field that is in women’s sports? This is not to say that all transgender women are going to outcompete biological women or that all women in locker rooms will be uncomfortable, but it is to say that there are competing interests in this situation.

There is still wide debate in the United States on whether transgender identity does in fact make you a member of the opposite gender or sex. The right and left are divided on the issue wholesale and others are caught in the middle wondering if they will get canceled for using the wrong pronouns online.

Personally, I was friendly with some guys in high school who could deadlift weight well over 400 pounds. One of them became transgender after graduation but still lifts at the same intensity. I would be cautious to say that the guy I knew back in high school should be competing with that strength among girls who likely could not deadlift much more than 225 pounds.

We should be considering all positions on this issue, including the wishes of the transgender athletes as well as the privacy and safety of the girls in public schools. Both should be addressed and both communities should have full support from the people around them.

However, Governor Cox has made it clear that he will not be taking steps to accommodate the many women who have issues with allowing biological males into their locker rooms and in their sports leagues. Parents of Utah and the country are going to have another example to point to of disregard for their concerns when it comes to their children’s safety and privacy in upcoming elections.

This does not mean that we should dismiss any accommodations for transgender athletes, such as a separate league or separate locker rooms. However, Governor Cox is making this seem as though there are no concerns that parents or school aged girls should have.

Thomas Stevenson

March 17, 2022

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