Gov. Noem won’t sign bill protecting female athletes


The South Dakota legislature passed a bill banning individuals who were male at birth from competing in girls’ and women’s sports, both at the high school and the college levels. However, Governor Kristi Noem has refused to sign the legislation as passed.

Noem favors the ban as applied to high school sports, but not as applied to college. Accordingly, invoking her power to make style and form changes to the bill, Noem has, in effect, re-written it to excise the ban on biological men competing against women in college sports.

According to this report, when the South Dakota makes style and form changes, as opposed to exercising veto power, the revised bill can be enacted by a simple legislative majority vote.

However, it seems obvious that Noem’s change is neither to style nor form. It’s a substantive re-write and a significant watering down.

Noem enthusiastically supported the bill as written at the time of passage by the legislature. However, she changed her mind.

Why? She says “as I have studied this legislation and conferred with legal experts over the past several days, I have become concerned that this bill’s vague and overly broad language could have significant unintended consequences.” (Emphasis added)

She added:

Overall, these style and form clarifications protect women sports while also showing empathy for youths struggling with what they understand to be their gender identity. But showing empathy does not mean a biologically-female-at birth woman should face an unbalanced playing field that effectively undermines the advances made by women and for women since the implementation of Title IX in 1972.

But if biologically-female-at-birth women face an unbalanced playing field when they compete at the high school level against people who were born biologically-male, don’t they also face an unbalanced field when they do so as soon as a year later at the college level?

Supporters of the bill say Noem has bowed to outside economic pressure. This may have been what Noem had in mind when she spoke of “unintended consequences” of the legislation. Business interests have cited loss of economic opportunities for the state as an unintended consequence.

There is concern, in particular, over the NCAA refusing to hold tournaments in South Dakota if this legislation is enacted. According to this report, South Dakota hosts the Summit League men’s basketball tournament, as well as Division I women’s basketball and hockey regionals and Division II wrestling, basketball and volleyball championships.

It’s very likely that the NCAA would refuse to hold such tournaments in South Dakota if the bill as passed by the legislature goes into effect. Noem’s revisions would remove any claim that South Dakota is out of compliance with NCAA competition rules.

However, Noem’s compromise hasn’t satisfied the woke left. It wants the whole loaf of bread.

Thus, even with Noem’s changes, the state would very likely face economic repercussions. Whether the NCAA would still seek to punish the State is unclear, at least to me. I guess Noem believes it wouldn’t, or would be substantially less likely to.

My view is that if the bill passed by the legislature is good policy, it should be signed into law without being watered down. The left is destined to win the culture war in a rout if corporate America can cause political leaders to back down out fear of their states being boycotted.



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