Trans rights group sues anti-trans Republican governor Kristi Noem for discrimination

Kristi Noem

A trans rights group is suing an anti-trans Republican governor for after a contract they had with the state’s Department of Health was cancelled, which they claim constitutes discrimination. 

The Transformation Project is an advocacy group for trans people and their families in South Dakota and aims to “support and empower transgender individuals” while educating people in the local community about gender identity and expression. 

On Friday (10 February) the group filed a lawsuit against Republican governor Kristi Noem and the head of the state’s Department of Health. 

The Transformation Project alleges that the decision to terminate a contract they held with the department in December  — which resulted in the group losing a nearly $136,000 grant from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention — was discrimination.

Susan Williams, director of the Transformation Project, said in a text message to the Associated Press that the loss of the grant was “uncalled for and was, in fact, discrimination.” 

She added: “We believe that our contract was not broken and that the State’s claims against us are unfounded.”

You may like to watch

CBS News reported that Noem’s spokesperson Ian Fury, said last December that the contract had been signed without Noem’s knowledge or consent. 

Noem’s office has also said that the organisation did not meet all of the terms of its contract, such as providing quarterly reports. 

“South Dakota does not support this organisation’s efforts, and state government should not be participating in them,” Noem said in a statement. “We should not be dividing our youth with radical ideologies. We should treat every single individual equally as a human being.”

Noem has been vehemently outspoken with her anti-trans views and has continually attacked trans student-athletes and banned trans girls from playing on girls and womens teams last year. 

The politician has also voiced support for a proposition known as “Help not Harm,”. When put into law, it would add South Dakota to the list of at least 18 other states pushing legislation to block transgender youth from having access to medical care this year.

Brendan Johnson, an attorney representing The Transformation Project, said the contract’s cancellation was unconstitutional and unlawful.

“Even our state government is not above the rule of law, and we stand with the Transformation Project in this important constitutional challenge,” CBS News reported.