South Dakota passes two horrifying anti-trans bills in one fell swoop: ‘These votes are shameful’

Kristi Noem, the governor of South Dakota, is wearing a yellow outfit while standing at a podium

South Dakota lawmakers have passed two bills targeting trans students’ ability to play sports and access school bathrooms in one day.

The state’s House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 46 (SB 46), which will ban trans students from participating in school sports teams that align with their gender identity, on Tuesday (1 February).

According to the Argus Leader, the proposed legislation passed through the House with a 50-17 vote. There was reportedly no discussion on the bill from lawmakers.

SB 46 now goes to governor Kristi Noem’s desk for signature, and it’s believed that Noem will sign it into legislation.

House lawmakers also passed another anti-trans bill, House Bill 1005 (HB 1005), on Tuesday.

The bill would ban trans youth from using multi-occupancy public school facilities that affirm their gender including: shower rooms, bathrooms, changing rooms and sleeping rooms for overnight trips.

The House passed the bill with a 38-29 vote, and it will move to a Senate committee for debate.

Jett Jonelis, advocacy manager for the ACLU of South Dakota, slammed lawmakers for passing the “shameful” anti-trans bills.

“The votes today by House lawmakers are shameful,” Jonelis said. “SB 46 and HB 1005 reinforce the incorrect notion that transgender students are not entitled to the same dignity and respect as all students.”

According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), South Dakota House is the first state to send anti-trans legislation to a governor’s desk in 2022.

Cathryn Oakley, state legislative director and senior counsel at the HRC, criticised the “eagerness” of Noem and South Dakota legislators to pass SB 46.

She added that such legislation revealed “their backwards priorities and that Noem’s national political aspirations override any sense of responsibility she has to fulfill her oath to protect South Dakotans”.

“Senate Bill 46 and House Bill 1005 will harm transgender kids, adding to a dangerous wave of violence against transgender and gender non-binary people across the country that is being fuelled by misinformation, discriminatory laws, and divisive political talking points,” she said.

Noem has long been a supporter of a trans sports ban, and she even launched an advert targeting student-athletes in January. The advert claimed that “only girls play girls’ sports” in South Dakota and that Noem has been “protecting girls’ sports for years”.

She previously vetoed a different trans sports ban in March after it passed through the South Dakota legislature. Noem claimed at the time that the legislature’s version of the bill may have left the state open to lawsuits and backlash from the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

The conservative governor later issued two executive orders to ban trans athletes from participating in girls’ and women’s sports teams at public high schools and universities.

If Noem signs the sports bill into law as expected, South Dakota would become the latest state to enact a ban on trans athletes being able to play on school sports teams that align with their gender identities.

Similar legislation has been passed in Texas, Montana, Idaho, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida and West Virginia.