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ACLU responds to Noem's transgender sports bill

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Gov. Kristi Noem

The attached audio is from SDPB's daily public-affairs show, In the Moment.

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ACLU of South Dakota
Jett Jonelis is the advocacy manager for the ACLU of South Dakota.

The ACLU says Governor Kristi Noem’s proposed legislation to “protect fairness in women’s sports” violates the U.S. Constitution and the anti-sex-discrimination law known as Title IX.

Noem’s bill says only female athletes can participate in female sports and states a person’s biological sex is the one listed on their original birth certificate.

Jett Jonelis is advocacy manager for the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota and said the legislation targets transgender student-athletes.

“There's really no evidence that there is this advantage for transgender athletes. And there's no evidence of transgender domination in sports, you know, either in South Dakota or across the country," Jonelis said. "Governor Noem, and a lot of politicians, will say that this is just common-sense legislation, but it's truly just based on a fear and misunderstanding of transgender athletes, of gender, of athleticism.”

Jonelis said trans students should have the same opportunities as their peers.

“The thing is, we all deserve — black or white, gay or straight, transgender or not — we all deserve to be able to live our lives authentically," Jonelis said. "And that's something that transgender people are consistently dealing with is being put in these boxes and being told that they can't live their authentic lives.”

Jonelis said this bill is not new. It's the eighth attempt by South Dakota lawmakers to restrict transgender sports participation since 2015. All previous bills were defeated.

Lawmakers will consider the bill when they convene next month in Pierre for their annual session.

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