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South Dakota legalises hate by passing cruel ban on trans athletes on International Women’s Day

Emma Powys Maurice March 9, 2021
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Stock photo of transgender cyclist Rachel McKinnon wearing Sport Is A Human Right cycling shorts (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

LGBT+ advocates have condemned South Dakota for passing a bill to ban trans girls and women competing on sports teams that correspond with their gender identity.

The South Dakota Senate voted 20-15 in favour of HB1217 on Monday (8 March). It now heads to the desk of Republican governor Kristi Noem, who tweeted that she was “excited” to sign it into law.

“In South Dakota, we’re celebrating International Women’s Day by defending women’s sports! I’m excited to sign this bill very soon,” she said.

“To me, it looks an awful lot like bullying,” said Democratic state senator Reynold Nesiba, who voted against the bill.

South Dakota is among more than 20 states considering anti-trans sports bans this year, which critics warn are part of a coordinated attack designed to “sow fear and hate” against the transgender community.

It comes a week after a similar bill was passed in Mississippi in spite of ample evidence proving that trans athletes have no physiological advantages over their cis counterparts.

Indeed, only one trans woman in South Dakota has actually competed in women’s sports in the past ten years, and that woman “did not dominate the athletics season”, according to senator VJ Smith.

Other critics say the legislation violates Title 7 and Title 9 of the Civil Rights Act by discriminating based on sex, with White House press secretary Jen Psaki recently confirming such bills are against the law.

The Senate’s vote “opens the state up to costly litigation,” warned Janna Farley of ACLU South Dakota, who said it is “disheartening” that legislators are spending their time on bills like this.

“We don’t need to have discrimination like this codified into law,” she added.

The South Dakota High School Activities Association, which governs high school sports and other activities in the state of South Dakota, also opposes the legislation.

The LGBT+ youth charity The Trevor Project raised alarm at the impact such bans will have on a group that is already at high risk of suicide.

“Transgender and non-binary youth want nothing more than to be loved and respected for who they are. Yet, rejection and victimisation have put these youth at significantly increased risk for suicide,” said Sam Brinton, the charity’s vice president of advocacy and government affairs.

“Lawmakers should be expanding support services for trans youth and fostering inclusion in the classroom and on the field, not making life harder than it already is.”

According to The Trevor Project’s 2020 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, more than half (52 percent) of transgender and non-binary youth seriously considered suicide in the past year, compared to 40 percent of all LGBT+ youth respondents.

The Trevor Project is now urging Governor Noem to “take time out of her day to meet with trans youth in South Dakota who would be harmed by this unfair and unnecessary ban”.

Related topics: Trans

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