South Dakota Governor KristiNoem said Tuesday that she had proposed legislation for her state which would ban girls and women from participating on sports teams. This legislation represents the latest step in Governor Kristi Noem’s effort to ban trans girls from playing on female sports teams at the high school level and college level.
The draft legislation Noem proposes that all state-sponsored athletic teams must be determined by participants’ biological sexual sex at birth. They also have to be classified as either males, females, or coeducational. This proposal will be discussed during January’s legislative session.
The legislation places emphasis on transgender girls and women. It states that “only female athletes may compete in any team or sport or event for girls or women.” It does not mention transgender men or women, nor those who aren’t-binary.
When an athletic institution or school breaks these rules, Noem’s proposal will allow athletes who suffer direct or indirect injury from them to apply for injunctive relief. The proposal also states that athletes can file for additional relief if they are retaliated at.
They could also file for relief from school districts, higher education institutions and schools if they felt they were being harmed by a violation.
Noem said Tuesday that her proposal is an attempt to “defend fairness in girls’ sports at both the K-12 and collegiate level.”
” Every young woman should have equal opportunities to succeed. However, common sense shows that men are unfairly disadvantaged in competitive athletics. She said . that girls shouldn’t compete in girls’ athletic events. South Dakota is determined to defend the athletic rights of women, which they have done long and hard for. However, we must do so in a thoughtful way. “
Noem had vowed earlier in the year to sign similar legislation, but issued a partial veto when the bill passed the Legislature on March 8. According to the Associated Press . No transgender girls were playing in female high school sports leagues at the time that bill was being considered, according to the high school athletics association, and only one transgender girl has played in girls’ leagues in the state, according to the association’s records.
A section that would have extended the ban to college level sports was one of the sections that were vetoed. According to the AP, Noem argued that the NCAA would pull tournaments from the state if the ban was applied in a collegiate environment.
Following that veto, Noem issued executive orders at both the K-12 and collegiate levels banning transgender females from participating in female sports. Noem called transgender females “males” in her collegiate-level order. She stated that by allowing them to participate in sports aligned with their gender, it would “threaten diminish opportunities for women due to inherent physical differences between women and men.”
Her latest proposal attempts to codify these rules.
Noem has been criticized for her continued attempts to exclude transgender girls from all female sports and have received significant criticism from LGBTQ advocacy groups.
” Trans lives in South Dakota cannot be debated. Trans girls can be called girls. Transgender women are also women. Period,” Equality South Dakota tweeted on Tuesday.
The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota stated that the proposed legislation violates Title IX and the Constitution.
“Noem says she will promote fairness in women’s sports. But if true, she would address the real threats to women’s sports like severe underfunding and lack of media coverage. She also tweeted about pay equity for coaches. “If the Governor’s proposed legislation is any indication of what’s to come during the 2022 legislative session, discriminatory rhetoric will again take precedence over issues that South Dakotans really care about.”
The proposal comes on the heels of what is believed to be the deadliest year for transgender people killed in the U.S. In addition to the increased number of bills that targeted transgender youth in regards to their access and participation in sport, this year saw an increase in legislative proposals.
More than 100 bills have been proposed across the U.S. in the 2020 and 2021 legislative sessions. The governors of Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Montana and West Virginia have all signed legislation banning transgender students from sports teams that align with their gender.
While most of these proposals have failed, advocates warn that they could have a negative impact on transgender youth. The Trevor Project stated that it had received more than twice the usual volume of messages and calls from young people in crisis with mental illness during the pandemic.
The organization has estimated that at least one LGBTQ individual between the ages of 13 and 24 in the U.S. attempts suicide every 45 seconds.
“I think for a lot of kids, it’s just a terrifying reinforcement of the most damaging messages that there’s something wrong with them and they don’t belong and they must try to make themselves into somebody that they’re not,” Jenny Pizer, law and policy director at Lambda Legal, previously told CBS News. They feel defeated and frustrated, so they keep trying and failing.
“The message is that this person has no value, doesn’t belong here, and shouldn’t exist,” Pizer said, “they are just broken.”