On the Site:


Utah Senate, House pass controversial transgender sports bill in final hours of session

Mar 5, 2022, 5:11 PM | Updated: Jun 19, 2022, 9:42 pm

SALT LAKE CITYAfter 45 days, the Utah legislative session wrapped up its final night Friday.

“It’s the night we’ve been looking forward to,” said Utah Gov. Spencer Cox. “I do feel like this was one of our best sessions ever.”

Even with so much to feel good about, there’s one bill pushed through in the final hours that Cox, and many others, just don’t feel right about.

“If you look back historically across the history of the legislature, some of the worst decisions get made at the last minute,” he said.

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox

He’s talking about House Bill 11, which deals with student eligibility in Utah high school athletics. However, this bill specifically talks about transgender athletes competing, which the Utah legislature voted to ban late Friday night.

That version of the bill, an all-out ban, surprised many people.

Cox said he’s disappointed in the process and promised to veto the bill as soon as it gets to his desk.

“We have never discussed a ban. I’d never had a conversation about a ban with anyone this session,” he said.

So, why did the legislature vote on this bill last minute without much discussion?

“I would say the primary reason why we ran the bill with the ban intact is that’s what we can get the votes for,” said Sen. Daniel McCay, who is a sub-sponsor of H.B. 11. “Our constituency has told us over and over and over again they want something done with this issue.”

Sen. Daniel McCay

Those who voted for the ban say it protects female athletes and girl’s high school sports by not having biological boys compete with them, creating an unfair natural competitive advantage.

“The one thing I hear consistently is if girls want to compete, we need to make sure they’re protected while they’re competing,” McCay said during an interview Saturday morning.

Rep. Kera Birkeland, who sponsored H.B. 11, released a statement Saturday morning.

“The legislative process is interesting and often complex. There are 104 lawmakers in two chambers with differing opinions and perspectives. While H.B. 11 did not play out how I expected or intended, I do not want to undermine the fact that I have poured my heart and soul into finding a way to balance protecting Utah’s female athletes with inclusivity and acceptance for the past two years and will continue to do so.”

Rep. Kera Birkeland

Troy Williams, the executive director for Equality Utah, says the handful of transgender athletes in Utah aren’t looking for an unfair advantage.

He also says the three or four transgender athletes who are known in Utah at this point aren’t dominant in their sports.

“I think the challenge is we cannot treat high school students like they’re all Olympians,” Williams said. “They’re not all trying out for the Olympics. They play sports because they just want to fit in, because it’s healthy, because they want to work as a team, have a fall and get back up again.”

Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah.

Both sides agree it is a controversial issue that isn’t going away any time soon.

“We know that we’re going to be trying to figure this out for a long time. It’s not going away,” McCay said.

No matter what is ultimately decided, many people say they’re upset at the process of lawmakers who passed a bill without it getting much, if any, public discussion.

“I think there will be the potential for a lot of regret for doing that and not giving it the right process,” Cox said.

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

The NTSB released a preliminary report on a Nov. 14 plane crash that killed two pilots and seriousl...

Bridger Beal-Cvetko, KSL.com

Investigators release preliminary report on plane crash that killed 2 near Khyv Peak

The NTSB released a preliminary report on a Nov. 14 plane crash that killed two pilots and seriously injured a passenger near Khyv Peak in Provo.

34 minutes ago

(ATF Denver Field Division)...

Pat Reavy, KSL.com

Reward offered in Cedar City stolen firearms investigation

A reward is being offered in connection with a stolen firearms investigation in southern Utah.

4 hours ago

Kevin Franke and his attorneys walk into a conference room following a juvenile court hearing on Se...

Pat Reavy, KSL.com

Husband of YouTube vlogger Ruby Franke files for divorce

The husband of the popular "8 Passengers" YouTube channel vlogger has filed for divorce nearly three months after his wife Ruby Franke was charged with abusing their children.

7 hours ago

In the moment they feel like small purchases, right? An ornament here. A stocking stuffer there. A ...

Matt Gephardt

How you can avoid holiday debt despite the pressure to spend

In the moment they feel like small purchases, right? An ornament here. A stocking stuffer there. A last-minute office gift. But all this can quickly add up to a financial holiday hangover. And perhaps it’s one you’re still feeling from the last holiday season.

15 hours ago

The inversion as seen from Salt Lake City on Nov. 29, 2023. (Jack Grimm, KSL TV)...

Debbie Worthen and Mary Culbertson, KSL TV

Utah leaders face uphill battle on clean air before 2034 Olympic Games

Part of Utah's agreement with IOC requires clean air for the Olympic Games in 2034 if Salt Lake is to host. Leaders have ambitious plans for the next decade in attempt to make it happen.

15 hours ago

A picture of Powder, the official Olympic mascot in 2002, who was played by Heather Mickey, picture...

Mary Culbertson and Andrew Adams, KSL TV

2002 Olympic mascot reflects on her time as Powder after big announcement

An official Olympic mascot looks back on her time during the Games in 2002, and talks about what excites her for 2034.

15 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Design mockup half in white and half in color of luxury house interior with open plan living room a...

Lighting Design

Lighting Design 101: Learn the Basics

These lighting design basics will help you when designing your home, so you can meet both practical and aesthetic needs.

an antler with large horns int he wilderness...

Three Bear Lodge

Yellowstone in the Fall: A Wildlife Spectacle Worth Witnessing

While most people travel to this park in the summer, late fall in Yellowstone provides a wealth of highlights to make a memorable experience.

a diverse group of students raising their hands in a classroom...

Little Orchard Preschool

6 Benefits of Preschool for Kids

Some of the benefits of preschool for kids include developing independence, curiosity, and learning more about the world.

Utah Senate, House pass controversial transgender sports bill in final hours of session