Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky has vetoed a bill banning transgender athletes from competing in sex-segregated sporting events.

Beshear, a Democrat, refused to sign the bill Wednesday after claiming it was most likely unconstitutional. Beshear claimed the legislation "discriminates against transgender people" and therefore would not hold up in court.

The Republican-dominated state legislature can force the bill through with a majority vote in both houses, which is expected to happen next week.


The bill cruised through the state house with a 70 to 23 vote. The state senate was a similar layup, with a 26 to 9 vote. A simple majority is needed to override the governor's veto.

"This bill is a solution in search of a non-existent problem," said Samuel Crankshaw, a spokesperson for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky. "It is rooted in hate and unconstitutional."

Under the Kentucky bill, a student’s gender would be determined by the "biological sex" indicated on the student’s certified birth certificate "as originally issued at the time of birth or adoption."

Republican Sen. Robby Mills, the bill’s lead sponsor, said the measure would ensure girls and women compete against other biological females.

Kentucky is not the first state to pass transgender athlete-related legislation. 

GOP-led states increasingly have adopted such prohibitions on transgender girls or women, though the bans have been challenged in several states as violations of federal law. 

The Utah Legislature voted in March to override Republican Gov. Spencer Cox's veto of a measure that would prevent transgender girls from participating in female sports in schools across the state.

University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas and Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines react after finishing tied for 5th in the 200 Freestyle finals at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships on March 18th, 2022 at the McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta. (Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

In a 56-18 vote with a supermajority needed, the Republican-controlled House first voted to override Cox’s veto. Shortly after, the Senate gave final approval to override the veto by a vote of 21-8.


Earlier last month, Indiana Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb also vetoed a bill that would have prevented transgender females from taking part in female sports, claiming the measure "leaves too many unanswered questions" and questioning the need for intervention at a state level.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.