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South Dakota governor calls on transphobes across the US to join her fight against trans athletes

Josh Milton March 23, 2021
South Dakota governor Kristi Noem CPAC

South Dakota governor Kristi Noem addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference held in the Hyatt Regency on 27 February 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

South Dakota governor Kristi Noem has vowed to ban trans girls from taking part in school sports after sending a bill seeking to do just that back to state legislature.

Noem explained on Tucker Carlson Tonight Monday (22 March) that she rejected a bill seeking to ban trans athletes from competing on the correct team for their gender over concerns that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) will seek punitive action if it is passed.

As a result, she has declined to sign the bill passed by the Republican-controlled legislator earlier this month unless several stylistic changes are made.

“I’m going to make sure that we are building strength in numbers and we are going after the NCAA and make sure that we are keeping only girls playing in girls’ sports,” she told Tucker Carlson.

The host asked whether Noem is “caving into the NCAA” by not signing the bill.

Kristi Noem said she could “sign the bill the way that it is today, but it wouldn’t solve the problem”.

“This bill would only allow the NCAA to bully South Dakota,” she said.

“And it would actually prevent women from being able to participate in collegiate sports. So what I have done is I have asked the legislature to change the bill.”

She pledged to create a “coalition of leaders, athletes and people who want to protect women’s sports” across the US as a firewall against the NCAA.

South Dakota see-saws on signing trans school athlete bill, frustrating Republicans

South Dakota lawmakers passed the anti-trans bill on International Women’s Day (8 March). Moments later, Noem tweeted that she was “excited to sign” it.

Days later, she U-turned. In a lengthy Twitter thread, Noem said Friday (19 March) that she would return HB1217 over fears it could have “unintended consequences”.

She asked for a raft of tweaks to the proposed bill, such as having it apply only to middle and high school athletics but not college sports, in an apparent effort to forestall NCAA reprisal.

Fears had been fuelled among business leaders and educators that the NCAA may punish schools if the bill is passed as it clashes with its policies, according to the Associated Press.

It’s been suggested the NCAA could pull tournaments or home games from the state or car South Dakota athletes from playing in leagues – something which could be deeply damaging to public schools in the deeply-red state.

The association has yet to respond to the terrifying wave of transphobic sports bills across some 20 states.

More: south dakota, trans athletes

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