SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Governor Kristi Noem is calling it the “strongest protection for fairness in women’s sports in the country.” The new law bans transgender girls and women from playing on sports teams that correlate with their gender identity. Part of the controversy was that there was a policy already in place for transgender students in athletics.

Senate Bill 46, and others like it, have been promoted as fairness bills by supporters.

“It’s about allowing biological females in their sex to compete fairly on a level playing field that gives them opportunities for success,” Noem said.

Rob Monson with the School Administrators of South Dakota testified against this bill when it was in committee. The South Dakota High School Activities Association and the Associated School Boards of South Dakota did as well.

“Our opposition to this bill was not the fact of what the Governor was trying to put forward, but it was merely that schools have been managing transgender students as well as a lot of different varieties of students for many, many years,” Monson said. “And it seems the only time we really have discussion about students, such as transgender students, is during the legislative session.”

In 2013, the South Dakota High School Activities Association adopted a policy for transgender students wanting to compete in sports. Since then, only one student has participated as a transgender female. One other student applied but was denied.

“The policy the activities association had was very strong, very thorough and a lot of people involved before anyone ever stepped onto a court or into an activity,” Monson said.

“It’s about fairness,” Noem said. “We fought years ago for Title IX so that women had an opportunity to compete. Now there’s many different competitions where biological sex isn’t that big of a deal and we don’t make accommodations for it in debate competitions or academic, speech competitions. But in athletics, it does matter.”

This law applies to athletics in the K-12 level, and at public universities.

Monson says he was glad an amendment was added to the bill that ensures school districts will not have to pay for lawsuits if legal action is taken against them in regards to this law.