SIOUX FALLS, S.D (KELO) — In a brief ceremony Thursday, Gov. Kristi Noem signed Senate Bill 46, which she says protects fairness in women’s sports.
The law bans transgender female athletes from participating in girls sports in K-12 schools and women’s sports in state-governed universities in South Dakota.
Noem said the law will protect girls who play sports in South Dakota. The governor said it ensures a level playing field for girls.
During a news conference following the signing ceremony, Noem was asked how she could support a ban on transgender girls in female sports when she has said she has friends and family who are transgender; she responded that the law was about fairness.
While the state high school association has a policy on transgender athlete participation in sports, Noem said she is not confident that transgender participation is not an issue in the state.
Senate Bill 46 does not ban transgender males from participating in boys or men’s sports.
It was one of several bills on transgender athletes and sports being considered in other states in the U.S. It is the first to become law this year.
The governor likened the new law on banning transgender females in sports to the fight for Title IX.
Title IX prohibits federally funded educational institutions from discriminating against students or employees based on sex, according to History.com and the U.S. Department of Education. It passed in 1972.
Opponents said the bill discriminates against transgender females and that state high school association and NCAA rules address transgender athlete participation in sports.
The transgender bill into law was a victory for Noem after at least two legislative defeats in recent days.
A House committee wouldn’t sponsor her proposed heartbeat-based abortion ban. Also, Noem had announced a plan to expand campground sites at Custer State Park, but that failed even after a major revision.