PIERRE, S.D. — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said Tuesday she would propose a bill to ban transgender women and girls from participation in female school sports leagues.
The proposal, which will be considered during the legislative session in January, revives a debate in the Capitol that split Republicans last year. A similar bill ultimately died in March after the governor issued a “style and form veto” against it.
Noem had argued that bill would have been easily defeated in court and had other technical problems. But she also faced political fallout among social conservatives and issued executive orders that pushed high school sports and public universities to only allow women to compete in women’s sports if their birth certificate listed them as female.
Noem’s proposed bill would codify those orders, her office said Tuesday. She described them as an effort to ensure “an equal playing field” for women.
“Common sense tells us that males have an unfair physical advantage over females in athletic competition,” the Republican governor said in a statement.
But advocates for transgender people said it was an attack on transgender women and girls and did nothing to address the challenges like underfunding, a lack of media coverage and sexist stereotypes that girls and women actually face.
“Gov. Noem’s proposed legislation is clearly fueled by a fear and misunderstanding of transgender people in our state,” said Jett Jonelis, the advocacy manager at the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota.
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