South Dakota House committee approves trans athlete ban

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — A South Dakota House committee has approved a proposal from Republican Gov. Kristi Noem to ban transgender women and girls from competing in school sports leagues that match their gender identity. All 11 Republicans on the House State Affairs voted in favor of the bill. The governor has cast it as “protecting fairness in women’s sports.” But advocates for transgender people decried the proposal as bullying that would deprive them of an opportunity to compete and belong to a team. South Dakota could be the 10th Republican-controlled state to adopt such a ban on transgender women or girls.

Today, the House State Affairs Committee voted to advance Senate Bill 46, legislation that would ban transgender women and girls from competing on the sports teams that match their gender identity.

The ACLU of South Dakota opposes Senate Bill 46. By singling out transgender women and girls and enacting a sweeping ban on participation in athletics, Senate Bill 46 violates both the United States Constitution and Title IX of the Civil Rights Act.

“Title IX protects all students – including students who are transgender – from discrimination based on sex,” said Jett Jonelis, ACLU of South Dakota advocacy manager. “Senate Bill 46 is clearly fueled by a fear and misunderstanding of transgender people in our state. In South Dakota and around the country, transgender people of all ages have been participating in sports consistent with their gender identity for years. Inclusive teams that support all athletes and encourage participation should be the standard for all school sports.”

The bill, introduced on behalf of Gov. Kristi Noem, is intended to inflame a political reaction, not protect fairness in women’s sports.

“These attacks on trans women and girls are rooted in the same kind of gender discrimination and stereotyping that has held back cisgender women athletes for centuries,” Jonelis said. “Transgender girls are often told that they are not girls based on inaccurate stereotypes about biology, athleticism and gender. Trans girls are girls – period. This is an attempt to erase transgender people from society.”

In addition to the ACLU of South Dakota, organizations like the South Dakota High School Activities Association, the Transformation Project, the Human Rights Campaign and the Associated School Boards of South Dakota also oppose Senate Bill 46.