NEWS & ANALYSIS

South Dakota Governor Signs Executive Orders to Ensure Fairness in Female Sports


South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem signed two executive orders Monday aimed to ensure fairness in female sports by limiting participation strictly to biological females. 

This comes after the state legislature failed to revise the bill that would have stopped transgender females from competing in girls and women’s sports. 

“Only girls should play girls’ sports. Given the legislature’s failure to accept my proposed revisions to HB 1217, I am immediately signing two executive orders to address this issue: one to protect fairness in K-12 athletics, and another to do so in college athletics,” Noem wrote Monday. 

When the proposal was sent to the legislature for revisions, the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota criticized the efforts to ban transgender females from participating in female sports. 

“House Bill 1217 has never been about leveling the playing field for student athletes,” advocacy manager Jett Jonelis said in a statement March 25. “It’s been obvious from the beginning that this discriminatory legislation is about creating a solution to problems that don’t exist and, in the process, harming some of the most vulnerable people in our state.” 

Because the proposed changes were not made, the bill was vetoed and Noem used her executive authority to do what she thought was best for females in her state. 

In a press conference, Noem said that she was trying to avoid getting into expensive legal challenges. 

“Just know that we could face retaliation [from groups like the NCAA], it’s more than likely, and then at that point in time we would have to sue, which would be a cost to the taxpayers, which based on advice from legal scholars across the country and constitutional and conservative scholars, they believe that our chances of winning that type of litigation would be small.” 

Noem urged that she will collaborate with state lawmakers to schedule a special legislative session in May or June, during which she will ask members to revisit the women in sports bill as well as medicinal marijuana and the federal spending package, according to the Epoch Times.

This decision comes as 25 states propose new laws to define gender as an athlete’s reproductive biology. 

Many argue that transgender females will have an unfair advantage over biological females and will dominate girls’ sports. 

Governors in Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi have already signed transgender girl bans, and efforts are underway in Georgia. 

“I proudly signed the Mississippi Fairness Act to ensure young girls are not forced to compete against biological males,” Mississippii governor Tate Reeves said. 

“Forcing girls to play against biological males limits the ability of young women in the state of Georgia to win competitions, receive scholarships and to achieve the highest levels of success in their sports,” said Georgia state Sen. Marty Harbin, sponsor of the “Save Girls Sports Act.”