South Dakota governor reminds us she hasn’t forgotten her mission to keep trans girls out of sports

In a press release for her proposed legislation, Noem stressed that it won’t have the “problematic provisions” included in HB 1217, which she worried could open the state up to legal scrutiny or backlash from the NCAA. Noem’s bill, disturbingly, would permit cisgender student-athletes (as well as parents) who claim to survive some sort of “direct or indirect” harm to sue institutions that didn’t enforce the anti-trans policies. Basically, for example, if a high school allowed a trans girl to play on the girls’ sports team anyway, a cisgender peer who didn’t get the position they wanted or didn’t make the team at all could sue the district over it.

According to American Principles Project, a conservative outlet that’s vehemently anti-trans, the bill would also extend anti-trans policies from kindergarten through twelfth grade, as well as at the college level. If Noem’s legislation is passed, sex would be determined by what’s listed on the student’s birth certificate. 

“Common sense tells us that males have an unfair physical advantage over females in athletic competition,” Noem said in a statement. But she’s relying on gender bio-essentialism and frankly, she’s wrong. This isn’t about men having an unfair advantage over women—it’s about allowing all women to play on the women’s team, including trans women. Trans women are not men, so whether or not men have an unfair advantage is not actually a point at hand. 

On Wednesday, Noem doubled down on her transphobia, tweeting that her goal is to ensure that “only girls are playing girls’ sports.” Trans girls, remember, are girls.


Texas, Idaho, Tennessee, Arkansas, Montana, West Virginia, Mississippi, Florida, and Alabama—all have anti-trans sports legislations going. South Dakota has seen an absolute onslaught of anti-trans legislation over the past few years, and while it might be easy for some to say, “Well, what trans person would want to live in South Dakota?” That’s really not fair.

Queer people live absolutely everywhere for a number of reasons: family, jobs, medical care, hobbies, relationships, and so on. Trans youth, especially, have extremely limited autonomy when it comes to where they live. We need to fight on behalf of trans folks all over the country, not just where we see a lot of blue voters or openly queer residents. 

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