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GOP governor fights back tears over anti-trans school bill: 'They're just trying to stay alive'

The bill aims to stop transgender women from competing in sports by categorizing sports as 'male', 'female' and 'co-ed.'

GOP governor fights back tears over anti-trans school bill: 'They're just trying to stay alive'
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 24: L.G.B.T. activists and their supporters rally in support of transgender people on the steps of New York City Hall, October 24, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Trigger warning: This story contains compelling details of transphobia which readers may find disturbing. 

Republican Governor Spencer Cox of Utah came close to tears as the state legislature considered an anti-transgender bill that prohibits transgender women from competing in what schools label "female sports." The new bill being considered will mandate schools to categorize all sports as male, female, or co-ed, and thus denying trans students' the right to join a team that aligns with their gender identity rather than their sex assigned at birth. Spencer Cox said he had spoken personally to trans students and he didn't want to sign the bill in its current state and it excluded an already marginalized group. The bill has already been passed by the Utah house and is set to be debated in the Senate. The Democrats have called the bill transphobic and exclusionary. 


Cox got emotional after he was asked by reporters if he would sign the bill if the Senate passed it and sent it to his desk to make it a law. "I'm not in a place yet where I'm comfortable with the bill as it stands right now. Those discussions are ongoing. We still have a lot of work to do," said Cox before he started to get emotional and his voice started to break. "These kids are ... they're just trying to stay alive," said Cox, according to a video posted by PBS Utah. "There's a reason none of them are playing sports ... I just think there's a better way. And I hope that there will be enough grace in our state to find a better solution. I don't understand all of this, I don't, but I'm trying to understand more. I'm trying to listen and learn and, again, trying to help kids figure out who they are and to keep them alive." He took a moment to gather himself before saying, "I apologize for getting a little emotional."


While Cox didn't shoot down the bill, he made it clear he wasn't going it sign the bill in its current state. He didn't elaborate on the changes he expected to see in the bill. He urged those concerned to meet with trans students to understand the issue they were dealing with. “If you have not spent time with transgender youth, then I would encourage you to pause on this issue,” said Cox. “We have so many people that are in a very, very difficult spot right now, and we have very few if any transgender girls that are participating in sports. When you spend time with these kids, it changes your heart in important ways, and so I want to try to improve that message and see if we can't find a better way to work together." Many hailed the Republican governor for stepping away from the party line to understand the marginalization of the trans community.


The bill titled "Preserving Sports for Female Students," argues that it would be dangerous to allow transgender girls to share the playing field with girls whose assigned sex at birth was female. The bill claims that those who went through male puberty will have a stronger body than cis women. The bill doesn't account for children who haven't gone through puberty or those who were on hormone blockers that halt their progression through puberty. The introduction of such a bill is gaining traction across America with conservatives being the driving force behind the bill. At least 17 states have considered similar bills across America, according to Human Rights Campaign. 


The Utah Democratic Party slammed the bill as “transphobic and hateful” and said it “will further criminalize the transgender experience by pushing trans Utahns out of sports,” reported Herald Extra. Jeff Merchant, chairman of the Utah Democratic Party said the bill will be a step back for the LGBTQ community. “This Republican bill will, without question, hurt children in our state, and damage our relations with the LGBTQ community irreparably,” said Jeff Merchant, chairman of the Utah Democratic Party. 

If you're trans and are being subjected to abuse, or need any help, please reach out to TRANS LIFELINE at 877-330-6366.

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