Local and national organizations react to Noem’s proposed transgender athletics ban

Governor Kristi Noem is taking aim at another attempt to promote legislation that would ban transgender women and girls from women’s and girl’s sports teams.
Published: Dec. 14, 2021 at 10:55 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Governor Kristi Noem is taking aim at another attempt to promote legislation that would ban transgender women and girls from women’s and girl’s sports teams in South Dakota.

The Governor’s office released a draft of a bill that would ban transgender girls and women from participating in sports that don’t match their biological sex. Gov. Noem said the goal is to defend fairness in girls’ sports, at both the K-12 and collegiate levels. If passed, this bill would codify executive orders signed by Gov. Noem earlier this year.

“This is about fairness. Every young woman deserves an equal playing field where she can achieve success, but common sense tells us that males have an unfair physical advantage over females in athletic competition. It is for those reasons that only girls should be competing in girls’ sports,” Noem said in a statement.

The bill would require public schools and universities to designate any athletic team, sport, or event, as either male, female, or co-ed. Only women who are identified as biological females on their birth certificate would then be allowed to participate as a member of a female athletic team.

Some South Dakota organizations have already called the draft bill an “attack” on transgender South Dakotans. The ACLU of South Dakota said this is the eighth attempt to prevent transgender athletes from competing in the state since 2015, calling it a “solution in search of a problem,” and only targets those already vulnerable.

“There are real threats to fairness in women’s sports that could be addressed by legislators and politicians, but are not. This bill does absolutely nothing to create fairness in women’s sports. It doesn’t tackle the severe underfunding, pay equity for coaches.” said ACLU of South Dakota Advocacy Manager Jett Jonelis. “All it really does is target transgender athletes in the state. Which is really trying to exclude them from opportunities, programs and activities that are available to their cis gender peers.”

The advocacy group Transformation Project South Dakota said they’ll be ready to lobby against the bill headed into the state legislative session. Founder and Executive Director Susan Williams said the bill would only affect a handful of transgender students currently or looking to compete in the state.

“There’s just such a small group of people that are playing sports in South Dakota. We have one trans-kid at the moment that’s playing sports in South Dakota. So this seems like an issue that we shouldn’t have to go over again.” said Williams.

Some groups based outside of South Dakota are applauding the proposed bill. In a statement to Dakota News Now, the American Principles Project said, “We’re pleased that Gov. Noem has decided to take action in South Dakota to adequately protect female athletes. Our initial impression of her proposed legislation is that it is a strong measure to defend the integrity of women’s sports from K-12 to college.” said American Principles Project President Terry Schilling. “We encourage state lawmakers to support it and officially make South Dakota the tenth state to enshrine protections for women’s sports into law.”

If passed, the bill would codify executive orders signed by Noem earlier this year.

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