Noem Wants Girls' Sports Coalition, Transgender Community Not Included

Mar 22, 2021

Governor Kristi Noem wants to defend Title IX protections by declaring boys play boys sports and girls play girls sports – in essence preventing transgender girls from participating in sports.  

She’s reaching out to other governors and attorneys general to join her. Transgender advocates in the state say she hasn’t reached out to them.  

Governor Noem says her office has been studying Title IX cases since September and doesn’t think the bill that reached her desk would hold up in the courts.  

Following conservative backlash for her partial veto of a bill restricting transgender girls from playing on girls’ sports teams, Noem wants to bring together other states and stakeholders to defend themselves from any NCAA backlash.  

“For decades, women have fought for an equal playing field,” Noem says. “For equal opportunities for scholarship money, for programs they can participate in and to be treated the same as men. That’s what title IX is all about. It’s being threatened some of the conversations that are happening at the national level, different policies that are happening.”  

Noem says she thinks her changes to legislation will not get struck down by title IX protections because it only deals with K-12 athletics. However, South Dakota schools are subject to title IX protections because they receive federal funding from the education department.  

Families with transgender children have been trying to meet with Governor Noem to talk about the legislation.   

Susan Williams is with the Transformation Project.   

“We do hope that she will meet with us as our children are the ones who will be directly affected by this legislation. Knowledge really is power. We believe Governor Noem cannot make an informed decision without meeting with transgender South Dakotans to learn about their experiences and the daily challenges they daily face and the damage that HB 1217 will inflict on their lives.”  

Lawmakers will consider Governor Kristi Noem’s style and form veto next Monday.  

Noem has also threatened to call a special legislative session to take up the issue if need be.   

The South Dakota High School Athletics Association already has a transgender athlete policy in place. In the last eight years it’s been used once.