South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem intends to sign a bill passed by the state legislature on Monday to prevent biologically male transgender women from participating in female sports leagues.
At present, no transgender girls have been enrolled to play in female high school sports leagues in South Dakota, according to the high school athletics association, CBS News reports. “I’m excited to sign this bill very soon,” wrote Noem on Twitter. “In South Dakota, we are celebrating International Women’s day by defending women’s sports!”
The South Dakota Senate passed the Women’s Fairness in Sports bill with a vote of 20-15. State Rep. Rhonda Milstead introduced the bill, which passed the South Dakota House by 50-17 back in February.
“We anticipate that when Governor Noem signs the bill, South Dakota will be the first state this year to pass legislation of this sort,” a spokesman for Noem told Fox News.
The bill has come under fire from left-wing advocacy groups like the ACLU of South Dakota, whose advocacy manager Jett Jonelis testified against it.
“In an attempt to ‘level the playing field,’ House Bill 1217 excludes an entire group of women and girls from meaningful participation in sports,” Jonelis said according to KOTA TV. “House Bill 1217 isn’t about protecting fairness in women’s sports. It’s about erasing and excluding trans people from participation in all aspects of public life.”
Should Noem sign the bill into law, South Dakota will be the first of over a dozen states currently attempting to legislate against the inclusion of biological males in women’s sports. Advocates for the legislation say that women and girls are disadvantaged when competing against physically stronger male counterparts. Numerous female athletes have spoken out against the inclusion of biologically male female-identifying athletes in girls sports.
“If I had played [women’s tennis] in my 20s, I would have won Wimbledon. At 40, though? I wasn’t going to be the best, and I knew that,” said transgender tennis pro Renee Richards in an interview with Sports Illustrated. Asked what she would have done if she won Wimbledon as a trans athlete, Richards said, “I would have quit. That wouldn’t have been going for anyone. Not me and not women’s tennis.”
Though Noem intends to sign the bill into law, it is likely to face challenges at the federal level, alongside a dozen other efforts to restrict women’s sports from the inclusion of trans people.
Last week, the Mississippi House passed a bill banning trans athletes from girls’ or women’s sports teams. It is one of over 20 propositions to implement restrictions protecting women’s sports currently going through different stages of legislation.