FF12 Fact Check: Ads address Laura Kelly’s stance on transgender-athlete issue

Political ad from Gov. Laura Kelly’s campaign has been getting pushback from Republicans who say it doesn’t match her record dealing with transgender athletes
Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 9:49 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A political ad from Governor Laura Kelly’s campaign has been getting pushback from Republicans who say it doesn’t match her record dealing with transgender athletes’ legislation.

The GOP are airing an ad that addresses the issues, key to conservatives.

First, take a look at the ad from Governor Kelly, most of the focus is on the first few lines.

Claim: “You may have seen my opponent’s attacks, so let me just say it. Of course, men should not play girls’ sports.”

This is the claim that Republicans have called out.

Here are the facts. Governor Kelly has vetoed two bills that would ban transgender female athletes from competing on girls’ or women’s sports teams. SB 160 in 2022 and SB 55 in 2021. This would be from the elementary to the college level.

In April 2021, after vetoing the first version of the bill, this is what Governor Kelly said to 12 News: “It’s absolutely unnecessary, but even more than that, it’s hurtful and discriminatory. We have a total of five trans girls who participate in sports in the state of Kansas.”

She told the Kansas City Star Editorial Board and reporters she still opposes those bills but was addressing a claim used by her opponent, saying men instead of boys. Governor Kelly said using the term boys would be the age-appropriate parallel to girls - terms used to classify sports up through the high school level since athletes play against people at their grade or age level.

Kelly also said the NCAA and KSHSAA have participation policies in place for transgender students, and that’s the governing body where this should be handled.

The Republican Governors Association has been trying to push the GOP view on this issue.

One of those ads features former University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines.

Gaines said in the ad, “Laura Kelly vetoed laws to protect women and girls in sports, not once but twice.”

Gaines, originally from Tennessee before going to Kentucky, ended her college athletic swimming career this year.

In the ad, she advocates against transgender athletes from competing in women’s or girls’ sports associated with their gender identity.

Claim; “In the pool, he claimed a trophy that a woman had earned. This has to stop.”

This needs context. In March, Gaines competed against transgender swimmer Lia Thomas along with a number of other female athletes.

Thomas, of the University of Pennsylvania, transitioned from a man to a woman.

Gaines and Thomas tied for fifth in the 200-freestyle finals at the NCAA Women’s Championship.

Gaines said while they shared the podium, Thomas was given the only fifth-place trophy available for their heat. Gaines said officials gave her the sixth-place trophy and told her a fifth=place trophy would be mailed to her later.

In addition to the ad running in Kansas, Gaines has also appeared in an ad for U.S. Senator Rand Paul, who is up for re-election in Kentucky, talking about the same issue.