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Transgender Advocates Look Ahead to Future Legislative Fights


Wednesday, April 7, 2021   

PIERRE, S.D. - The dust is still settling from recent debate in the South Dakota Legislature over the so-called "transgender sports" bill. Advocates in the LGBTQ community say they're tired of addressing bills that target transgender people, but are fully prepared to challenge them.

The sports bill, aimed at preventing girls from competing on sports teams that don't align with their gender, was vetoed by the governor, who then issued executive orders that carry less weight. Although this proposal fell apart, said Susan Williams, executive director of the Transformation Project Advocacy Network, she doesn't see a let-up in the future.

"Just knowing that other legislation has gotten passed in other states," she said, "I can see that certain South Dakota legislators would take it upon themselves to try to get similar bills passed."

She said she's especially concerned about proposals, as in Arkansas, to ban transgender-related medical care for minors. A similar bill surfaced in South Dakota in previous sessions. Supporters of these bills have cited arguments ranging from religious beliefs to fairness in sports.

Williams said one of her group's goals is to connect lawmakers with transgender individuals, to hear firsthand their stories and concerns. She said they'll also be working with allies on making the transgender community more visible around the state "to be able to show trans people in our state that they do belong here, that they are a vital part of the fabric of our state."

Leading up to the recent debate, the group helped organize rallies in several cities around South Dakota. According to the Human Rights Campaign, 2021 was a record year for legislation proposed in the United States viewed as targeting transgender individuals.

National data on bills

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