SD is Latest State to Adopt Transgender Sports Law
Friday, February 4, 2022
Gov. Kristi Noem has signed a bill making South Dakota the tenth state to ban transgender girls and women from participating in team sports matching their gender identity.
LGBTQ advocates said it was a harmful process which will only have negative impacts. The bill cleared its final legislative hurdle this week, and its passage came less than a month after the session began.
Cathryn Oakley, state legislative director for the Human Rights Campaign, feels it is clear Noem was trying to score political pointed with her base and special-interest groups in quickly pushing for the bill's passage.
Oakley contended the measure is not something the public was clamoring for, especially at this stage of the pandemic.
"The last thing that any of us want right now is more divisiveness, more fear and more isolation," Oakley asserted.
A recent Associated Press analysis found almost no examples of transgender sports participation being an issue in the states where such bills have been proposed.
Supporters contended there is a broader need for fair competition for future generations of athletes, while opponents countered the only things the bills do is add more trauma for trans youth, compelling them to leave the state.
Policy experts say South Dakota's LGBTQ community has been very active in efforts to defeat past bills deemed hostile to its members.
Oakley emphasized when individuals make efforts to speak with lawmakers, there is a missed opportunity if the Legislature still fails to see them as human beings.
"They're normal kids who are going through all of the things that normal kids go through," Oakley observed. "And on top of that, they have a Legislature that continues to attack them year after year after year."
Oakley added this year's debate brought even more harm with a member of the governor's staff comparing the sport's issue to terrorism during testimony.
Noem made the plan a priority after a similar effort stumbled last year, prompting her to sign executive orders until lawmakers reconvened. Opponents also stressed such a law opens the door to legal action, pointing to lawsuits elsewhere in the country.
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