By Maya Shimizu Harris
Casper Star-Tribune Via Wyoming News Exchange 

Lummis backs trans athlete law


March 23, 2023

CASPER —In November, Wyoming’s Republican Sen. Cynthia Lummis defied expectation when she chose to vote in favor of the Respect for Marriage Act — a federal law that enshrines protection of same-sex marriages. Her vote for the historic legislation was a change from her previous record on same-sex marriage and resulted in backlash from her own party.

But the senator nevertheless doubled down on her decision.

Lummis’ stance on other LGBTQ issues, however, hasn’t necessarily undergone a similar shift.

In a Thursday press conference, Lummis told reporters that she supports a recent measure passed by the Wyoming Legislature that bans transgender girls and women from competing on interscholastic female school sports teams.

Gov. Mark Gordon allowed the bill to become law, even while calling it “overly draconian.” Wyoming Equality — the state’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization — has indicated that it will likely bring a lawsuit against the legislation once it takes effect in July.

“I actually support restricting sports for women to people who do not have a Y chromosome,” Lummis told reporters on Thursday, saying that the “physiological advantages” for those who are born male are “significant.”

“I think that there should be availability for trans people to participate in sports,” she said. “But I think they should participate within a category for trans people, letting women — people who have a complete absence of Y chromosomes — compete against each other. I think that creates a more level playing field.”

This year saw a flurry of bills in the Wyoming Legislature and across the nation that aimed to restrict transgender and other LGBTQ individuals. Beside the legislation concerning transgender athletes, there were also two bills that tried to outlaw gender-affirming medical treatment for minors in most circumstances. Neither of the latter cleared the Legislature.

Speaker of the House Rep. Albert Sommers came under fire from state and national figures for referring one of those bills — “Chloe’s law” — to the House Appropriations Committee rather than the House Labor and Health Committee, where such bills are typically considered.

The Wyoming Freedom Caucus rebelled against Sommers’ decision, given that the panel was unlikely to favor the bill. (The committee ultimately didn’t recommend the bill, putting it at the bottom of the list for consideration.)

State Freedom Caucus Network President Andrew Roth andWyoming’s Rep.Harriet Hageman also took shots at the House speaker in public.

Hageman — in a move that some said was unusual for aWyoming representative — retweeted a post by Roth criticizing the speaker for his actions on “Chloe’s law” and other bills.

“In Congress, I’m fighting for these very issues,” she wrote. “I hope the Wyoming Legislature will do the same.”

Sommers said at the time that he believed Hageman should have reached out to him personally.

“Congresswoman Hageman has my phone number. I don’t believe she reached out to me directly. I think that should have been the first step,” he said in a text.

While not specifically addressing Hageman’s actions, Lummis said during the Thursday press conference that during her 14 years serving in the Wyoming Legislature, the D.C. delegation and state lawmakers “gave each other great deference” — a kind of rapport that she personally chooses to uphold.

“I served in the Wyoming Legislature for 14 years, and personally, when our congressional delegation would weigh in from Washington on the work of the Wyoming Legislature at the time, it was not terribly welcomed, unless they were weighing in on an issue that had a clear federal-state nexus,” she said. “It’s a personal approach based on personal experience. So I don’t want to weigh in on how others interact and/or conduct their relationships between theWyoming congressional delegation and the Wyoming Legislature.That’s simply the approach that I choose to take.”

This story was published on March 27, 2023.


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