South Dakota governor signs chilling order banning trans girls from playing sports

Kristi Noem South Dakota

Republican governor Kristi Noem has issued two executive orders to prohibit trans girls from playing on girls’ and women’s sports teams in South Dakota.

Noem partially vetoed HB 1217 – also known as the Fairness in Women’s Sports bill – which would ban trans women athletes from playing in sports teams that align with their gender identity. The move shocked her conservative supporters as Noem had been a staunch supporter of the bill.

During an appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight, Noem explained that she rejected the bill in its current form over fear that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) would seek punitive action if it was passed. She argued that she declined the bill unless several stylistic changes are made.

However, the South Dakota state legislature voted Monday (29 March) to reject Noem’s “style and form” veto of the trans athlete bill, by a 67-2 vote. Republican congressmen Fred Deutsch wrote on Twitter: “Vote to pass the governor’s style and form veto on the Fairness for [Women’s] Sports bill fails 2-67.

“The bill now goes back to the governor for her to either sign or veto. House believes her style-and-form is unconstitutional.”

On the same day, Kristi Noem announced two executive orders would be put in place in South Dakota to ban trans athletes from participating in school sports as their correct gender. Noem said on Twitter: “Only girls should play girls’ sports.

“Given the legislature’s failure to accept my proposed revisions to HR 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.”

She added that she will be working with state lawmakers to “schedule a special legislative session in late May or early June” to address “this important issue” as well as “medical marijuana” and federal spending.

Under the new executive order, the department of education and the board of regents in South Dakota will need to ensure that publicly-funded K-12 school districts, colleges and universities restrict participation in girls’ and women’s sports to athletes who can prove their assigned sex at birth.

The ACLU of South Dakota vowed on Twitter that it will not “stop defending the right for everyone to live and thrive” in the state. It posted an image with text on it that read: “The fight isn’t over. If only for a moment, we were able to take a deep sigh of relief.”

The organisation said it is “examining each of these orders and weighing our options”.