Gov. Kristi Noem says she will sign legislation passed by the South Dakota legislature banning transgender athletes from participating in women’s and girls’ sports, becoming the latest state approving similar bills to outlaw such competition.
“In South Dakota, we’re celebrating #InternationalWomensDay by defending women’s sports!,” Noem tweeted Monday, moments after the bill cleared the state Senate. “I’m excited to sign this bill very soon.”
Backers of the bill say it promotes “fairness in women’s sports.”
Republican Sen. Jim Bolin said he remembers track meets where the hurdles were raised after girls’ 100-meter races for boys’ heats.
“That’s a clear illustration (of biological differences),” Bolin said, according to the Grand Forks Herald.
But opponents said it will likely spark a series of legal battles.
“The decision is going to be made in federal court,” said Republican Sen. V.J. Smith. “It’s not going to be made in the state senate of South Dakota.”
He noted that only one person born male took part in women’s sports in the past decade and that athlete did not dominate.
No transgender girl currently competes in a female high school sports league in the state, the high school athletics association said.
The legislation was rejected by a Senate committee over the consequences the state would have to deal with if it was passed, from the NCAA refusing to host tournaments, to legal challenges over discrimination to the administrative problems of gathering proof of every high school athlete’s gender at birth.
But it was revived on the Senate floor on Monday.
Legislatures in Alabama and Mississippi have also passed bills this month banning teen transgender athletes from participating in female sports.
The state Senate in Alabama also voted to make the use of puberty-blocking hormone therapies and sex-reassignment surgeries on people under 19 a felony with penalties of up to 10 years in prison.