After the South Dakota legislature refused to sign a bill that would ban transgender women athletes from competing in college sports programs in the state, Governor Kristi Noem issued her own anti-trans policy via executive order Monday.
Earlier this month, the South Dakota state Senate passed House Bill 1217 bill, which restricts transgender women athletes from competing on teams that match their gender identity.
Noem initially expressed enthusiasm, even excitement, for passage of the bill. However, she refused to sign it in the end, citing legal concerns. She asked lawmakers to revise the language of the bill, fearing boycotts by business and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Noem’s refusal to sign the original bill drew considerable flak from the right, and the bill died Monday after lawmakers refused to make the changes she proposed.
To oppose trans inclusion in sports, Noem said she would form a national coalition called “Defend Title IX Now” because the NCAA “cannot possibly punish us all” when enough states come together.
“Only girls should play girls’ sports,” Noem tweeted Monday. “I am immediately signing two executive orders to address this issue: one to protect fairness in K-12 athletics, and another to do so in college athletics.”
Only girls should play girls’ sports. Given the legislature’s failure to accept my proposed revisions to HB 1217, I am immediately signing two executive orders to address this issue: one to protect fairness in K-12 athletics, and another to do so in college athletics. (1/3)
— Governor Kristi Noem (@govkristinoem) March 29, 2021
Noem added that she will work with legislative leaders to schedule another legislative session in late May or early June to address this issue, as well as others, including the topic of medical marijuana.
Ensuring ‘Fair Competition’
South Dakota is not the only state debating trans inclusion in women’s athletics.
Last week, an anti-transgender bill was signed into law in Tennessee by Governor Bill Lee. Tennessee is now the third state after Arkansas and Mississippi to limit the participation of trans athletes.
The new law makes it mandatory for student athletes in middle and high school to prove their sex at birth to play sports. Lee showed his support for the bill, saying it will “preserve women’s athletics and ensure fair competition.”
In addition to restricting trans athlete participation, medical bans on hormone treatment and surgery for transgender people are also under consideration in Indiana, Missouri, Alabama, and Utah.