South Dakota to ban transgender athletes from playing in girls' sports as GOP Gov Noem says she's 'defending women'
9th March 2021

SOUTH Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has pledged to pass a bill that bans transgender athletes from competing in girls' sports in public schools.

The defiant proposal is an obvious move in opposition to President Joe Biden's plans to integrate school sports regardless of gender.

Noem claimed she would sign the bill on Monday afternoon, to coincide with International Women's Day, arguing she was "defending women's sports."

Parents will be required to submit a signed statement verifying the biological sex of their children who wish to participate in sports under the controversial new rules.

The debate over whether transgender females should be allowed to take part in sports continues to grip the country after Biden's executive order released on his first day in office.

It reads, "'All persons should receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation."

The legislation was released forbidding federal agencies from discriminating on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation as over 20 states moved to stop trans athletes competing in middle and high school sports.

The 49-year-old Republican governor showed her enthusiasm for the "Women's Fairness in Sports" bill on Twitter.

She posted: "In South Dakota, we're celebrating #InternationalWomensDay by defending women's sports! I'm excited to sign this bill very soon."

Last week, Mississippi's governor promised to sign a similar bill, which would make the state's the first to enforce policy on the matter.

Idaho is currently the only state that has attempted to impose a law banning trans student's participation in sports, but it is blocked by a court ruling.

Republican Senator VJ Smith said the move was merely "a political statement" that would see South Dakota enter a pending legal dispute on the policy.

The bill was quickly passed in the House by a 50-17 vote in February and passed the state's Senate with a 20-15 vote on Monday – leaving just Noem's signature standing in the way.

"My heart breaks for future generations. The decision you make today will affect future generations," Senator Maggie Sutton said. "I'm asking you today to protect women's sports."

Noem has been pinned for a 2024 presidential bid after a string of public appearances to boost her profile.

South Dakota's first female governor, Noem, spoke at the Conservative Political Action Committee last month and the Republican National Convention in August 2020, which elevated her national notoriety.

The Human Rights Campaign slammed Noem for backing the bigoted bill, tweeting: "Trans girls and their families are your constituents. You are using your power to exclude kids and make them feel less than, and that is nothing to be proud of."

ACLU of South Dakota advocacy manager Jett Jonelis said, "In an attempt to 'level the playing field,’ House Bill 1217 excludes an entire group of women and girls from meaningful participation in sports."

"House Bill 1217 isn’t about protecting fairness in women’s sports. It’s about erasing and excluding trans people from participation in all aspects of public life."

Alongside the ACLU of South Dakota, the South Dakota High School Activities Association, and non-profit trans charity The Transformation Project also criticized the bill.

Some local news outlets reported several rallies were in the works at the end of February to defend the rights of transgender people.

Executive director of the Transformation Project Advocacy Network, Susan Williams, explained: "We want to send a message to legislators that anti-trans legislation is not needed in South Dakota and it’s not wanted in South Dakota."

When the legislation is implemented, schools and athletic associations have to collect written permission slips of approximately 40,000 athletes to confirm their "reproductive biology."

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