South Dakota bill banning transgender women and girls from female sports is murdered by Governor Noem
The South Dakota governor killed a bill on Monday that would have banned transgender women and girls from female sports, but later issued weaker executive orders, including restrictions.
Emerging Republican star Kristi Noem had partially vetoed the bill – a move criticized by the right as “ cowardly ” and dismayed many of its constituents.
She demanded changes to the bill and sent it back to the legislature on Friday, but the South Dakota House of Representatives rejected her style on Monday, forming a veto with a 67-2.
Shortly after the bill passed, the governor, widely believed to have had presidential ambitions, issued two executive orders for a restricted ban.
But Republican lawmakers said the orders were little more than an attempt to save her reputation with conservatives.
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem killed a bill on Monday that would have banned transgender women and girls from women’s sports – but later issued weaker executive orders, including restrictions
She had demanded changes to the bill and returned it to the legislature on Friday, but the South Dakota House of Representatives rejected her style on Monday, forming a 67-2 veto. Pictured: Gov. Kristi Noem talks to people in South Dakota state headquarters ahead of Monday’s legislative session
The Women’s Fairness in Sports bill aims to ban biological men from participating in girls’ sports in public schools, and was defended by the governor earlier this month in commemoration of International Women’s Day.
However, she backed out in the face of fierce lobbying from corporations and national sports organizations such as the NCAA, National Collegiate Athletic Association.
On Noem’s orders, she ordered that all girls wishing to play in girls’ sports competitions in public schools must provide a birth certificate or affidavit certifying that they were born a woman.
This is despite the fact that the high school activities association claims that there are currently no transgender students playing in girls’ sports.
The second order applied to public universities in the state, but amounted to a recommendation that prohibited them from issuing.
South Dakota representatives to discuss bill banning transgender women and girls from female sports on Monday after vote
“Only girls are allowed to practice girls’ sports,” Noem said in a statement, adding that she issued the orders because the legislature rejected her partial veto on the bill.
She also said she will schedule a special legislative session in late May or early June to discuss the issue.
The bill’s sponsor, Republican Representative Rhonda Milstead, said Noem’s two executive orders were a “ weak message ” after falling out of favor with conservatives who took up the issue.
Milstead had pushed the issue in South Dakota, arguing that athletes born men are naturally stronger, faster, and taller than those born women.
Noem revealed her own plan last Monday (photo) to ‘protect fairness in women’s sports’
The bill included enforcement mechanisms and required schools to annually collect documentation on the gender of athletes at birth.
Lawmakers in more than 20 states have introduced similar bans this year, with Republican governors in three states – Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi – signing them into law. A federal court blocked a similar law in Idaho last year.
Transgender advocates said efforts to keep transgender girls and women out of sports deprive transgender children of the opportunity to be on a sports team when they need all the support they can get. They also noted that most transgender athletes do not have a significant competitive advantage over their peers.
“Transgender children belong in South Dakota, and they belong in sports,” said Susan Williams, head of an advocacy group called the Transformation Project. “It is out of time for elected officials in South Dakota to stop these unnecessary annual attacks on transgender people.”
Noem had initially said she was excited to sign the bill in a tweet earlier this month on International Women’s Day
After initially saying she was excited to sign the bill this month, Noem has become entangled in a political mess, facing harsh lobbying over corporate interests, legal threats and talk of betrayal from social conservatives who have been reassured that she was on their side.
The bill was passed by lawmakers on March 8.
The partial veto removed two sections from the bill and limited it to high school and basic sports. She argued that the bill amounted to a “ participation trophy ” because enforcing the ban on collegiate athletics would result in lawsuits and the NCAA pulling tournaments out of the state.
Business groups have said that if the NCAA pulled out of tournaments, it would cost the state millions and up to 100 full- and part-time jobs.
The governor’s use of a “ style and form ” veto – usually reserved for cleaning up technical language – also had lawmakers’ argument that she was overstepping the constitutional boundaries of her office.
The House rejected her style on Monday and vetoed it and instead tried to dismiss it as an outright veto. The bill died after it failed to get the two-thirds of the votes it took to overcome a veto.
Democrat Erin Healy praised the bill’s failure, saying it would have “discriminated against a whole group of people who are already vulnerable.”