Metro Weekly

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem attacks trans people with cruel athlete ban

Kristi Noem, who was harshly criticized for a veto of a proposed ban last year, is seeking to salvage her conservative bona fides.

south dakota, kristi noem, trans, transgender, athlete, ban
Gov. Kristi Noem – Photo: Matt Johnson, via Wikimedia.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R), who was blasted by anti-LGBTQ elements within her own party after sending a bill banning transgender athletes from women’s sports back to the legislature for minor revisions, has now introduced her own version of a transgender athlete ban ahead of next year’s legislative session.

Noem filed draft legislation earlier this week seeking to codify into law two executive orders that she issued after the legislature rejected her suggestions for ways to amend the transgender sports ban.

Last year, Noem issued a “style-and-form veto” of the bill, claiming that the legislature’s version, as written, would have left the state vulnerable to lawsuits and would have allowed the NCAA, the governing body of collegiate sports, to penalize the state’s college athletics programs. But she was roundly attacked by conservative groups and even Fox News host Tucker Carlson for capitulating to “big business” and “the left.” 

Washington Post conservative columnist Henry Olsen opined that Noem may have ruined her presidential ambitions by issuing the veto, noting that she “has risen to prominence by courting the party’s hard core,” who are more motivated by their religious identity and social conservatism than by the GOP’s other ideological principles.

“Noem’s veto raises a big question for these voters, for whom belief in biologically based genders are a matter of religious faith: Does she really share their values?” Olsen wrote.

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Seeking to salvage her standing in the eyes of conservative voters, Noem’s office touted the proposed legislation for the 2022 session as lacking the “problematic provisions” contained in the legislature’s preferred version, and cast the governor as standing up for cisgender female athletes, according to the Argus Leader.

Noem’s first executive order issued last year instructed the South Dakota Department of Education to establish a policy that would ensure that “only females, based on their biological sex” as listed on their birth certificates can participate in sports designated for girls in grades K-12.

Her second order urged the Board of Regents to ensure that participation in women’s sports at the collegiate level are limited to only those people whose birth certificate identifies them as female, as based on their assigned sex at birth.

Under Noem’s bill, any athlete who “suffers direct or indirect harm” as a result of a transgender athlete’s participation would be able to sue schools, colleges, and athletic organizations for damages, so long as they sue within two years of the alleged “harm.”

Related: South Dakota governor signs anti-trans executive orders after ban on trans athletes fails

LGBTQ advocates panned the bill, which is likely to pass next year after the legislative session resumes on Jan. 11.

“Trans lives in South Dakota are not up for debate,” the LGBTQ advocacy group Equality South Dakota tweeted. “Trans girls are girls. Trans women are women. Period.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota questioned the constitutionality of the proposed bill and left open the possibility of future legal action against the state should the measure pass.

“Gov. Noem’s proposed legislation is clearly fueled by a fear and misunderstanding of transgender people in our state,” Jett Jonelis, the advocacy manager for the ACLU of South Dakota, said in a statement. “Gov. Noem says she wants to ‘promote fairness in women’s sports,’ but if that were true, she’d tackle the actual threats to women’s sports such as severe underfunding, lack of media coverage, sexist ideologies that suggest that women and girls are weak, and pay equity for coaches.”

See also:

“Ex-gay” grifter Jeffrey McCall admits to sex with multiple men

North Carolina brewery launches LGBTQ fundraiser after Lt. Gov called gay people ‘filth’

Gay Catholics to be denied sacraments unless they ‘repent,’ Michigan diocese orders

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