Lawmakers in South Dakota have approved
a bill that prohibits transgender women and girls from playing sports
on teams that match their gender identity.
Senate Bill 46 cleared the House on
Tuesday. The bill, which now heads to Republican Governor Kristi
Noem's desk for her signature, is the first anti-transgender bill to
reach a governor's desk in 2022.
The bill was authored and submitted to
the legislature by Noem, making it almost a given she will sign the
bill into law. Last year, Noem signed two executive orders that
placed barriers around transgender athletes.
During a debate last week on the bill
in the House State Affairs Committee, Mark Miller, the governor's
chief of staff, likened transgender individuals to terrorists.
“By putting it in law, we are
ensuring that what we’re seeing all over the country does not
happen in South Dakota,” Millers said. “It’s sort of like
terrorism, you want to keep it over there, not let it get to here."
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the
nation's largest LGBTQ rights advocate, criticized passage of the
bill, calling it a solution in search of a problem.
“The eagerness with which Governor
Kristi Noem and South Dakota legislators have worked to pass Senate
Bill 46, legislation attacking transgender kids reveals their
backwards priorities and that Noem’s national political aspirations
override any sense of responsibility she has to fulfill her oath to
protect South Dakotans,” said Cathryn Oakley, HRC South Dakota
legislative director and senior counsel.
“South Dakota legislators have not
pointed to an example of any problem worth legislating against in the
state, because – simply put – no such problem exists, not in
South Dakota or in any of the states that have passed discriminatory
“Sports teach our kids important
lessons like discipline, teamwork, responsibility, and work ethic. It
is unjust and mean-spirited to shut transgender young people out of
the opportunity to play with their friends and learn those lessons.
Efforts to attack South Dakota’s transgender kids with bills like
these date back more than six years, and they are nothing more than
an attempt to shrink the space in which transgender kids can exist as
their authentic selves. South Dakotans deserve better from their
Governor and legislators,” she
Jett Jonelis, ACLU of South Dakota
advocacy manager, said that the bill “violates federal
constitutional guarantees of equal protection” and “reduces trans
students to political pawns.”