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 anti-transgender legislation.”

“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 added.

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.”