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Utah governor: Spending time with trans kids ‘changes your heart’

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Utah Gov.-elect Spencer Cox announces details related to the upcoming transition of leadership in the Gold Room at the Utah State Capitol on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Salt Lake City. Cox, who won the governor’s race this week, said he is prepared to continue the fight against COVID-19 when he succeeds Herbert in January. He said he hopes to focus on ramping up testing, adding more contact tracers and implementing vaccine distribution. (Steve Griffin/Deseret News, via AP, Pool)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah’s conservative Republican governor choked up Thursday as he spoke about the struggles faced by transgender teenagers, though he didn’t commit to vetoing a bill that would ban them from girls’ sports.

Gov. Spencer Cox sought middle ground on a polarizing issue that is coming up in statehouses around the U.S., saying he wouldn’t sign the current version of the proposal but there are valid concerns among supporters who say the ban would ensure fairness in women’s sports.

Utah is one of more than 20 states where similar bills have been introduced.

The proposals come as a growing number of state high school athletic associations in the U.S. have enabled transgender athletes to play on teams based on their gender identity, and the NCAA has trans-inclusive guidelines for all its member schools.

The bills advanced in states like Tennessee, Mississippi, North Dakota and Montana.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said earlier this month that transgender girls should be banned from playing on middle and high school sports teams or they will “destroy women’s sports.”

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