South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem signs bill banning transgender athletes from female sports teams
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem signed a bill into law Thursday that bans transgender girls and college-aged women from playing on female high school and college sports teams. It is the first state to enact a transgender athlete restriction this year, according to the Associated Press.
"This bill is about fairness," Noem said at a press conference. "It's about allowing biological females in their sex to compete fairly in a level playing field that gives them opportunities for success."
The law mandates that any female interscholastic, intercollegiate, intramural or club athletic team in the state only accept a student whose "biological sex" is female. The legislation defines biological sex as either "male" or "female" and classifies students based on their official birth certificate issued at or around the athlete's time of birth.
The bill is set to take effect July 1 but faces potential legal challenges from the Justice Department, the AP reports.
Opponents of the legislation condemned its passage Thursday, calling it "discrimination."
"Instead of focusing on the real issues affecting the people of South Dakota, Gov. Noem and anti-LGBTQ+ state legislators continue their relentless, baseless, and patently discriminatory attacks against transgender kids," Cathryn Oakley, Human Rights Campaign's state legislative director and senior counsel, said in a statement.
Sam Ames, the director of advocacy and government affairs at LGBTQ+ organization The Trevor Project, said the new law is "devastating" and finds new ways to exclude transgender youth.
"We will continue working with our partners and advocates on the ground to challenge these laws and ensure that all youth have the support they need to survive and thrive," Ames said.
Several other states, including Florida, Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi, have passed similar restrictions on transgender athletes.
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