South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem signed two executive orders Monday preventing trans girls from being able to take part in school and college sports in the state. The move came after days of legislative back-and-forth, culminating in the House failing to override Noem’s veto of House Bill 1217, which would have made trans women and girl’s participation in school sports illegal.
The death of the bill was followed by the signing of the executive orders, and can be seen as Noem’s attempt to both placate her critics on the right, angry at her for not rubber-stamping the discriminatory legislation, while, she hopes, not alienating organizations like the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which has inclusive policies to ensure the participation of trans athletes. Noem says she is scheduling a special legislative session to address the matter again in late May and early June.
Noem’s executive orders follow the passing of the first state bill—in Arkansas—banning trans teens’ access to health care. Equality campaigners are lobbying Gov. Asa Hutchinson not to sign the bill into law. However, last week, as The Daily Beast reported, Hutchinson signed a bill banning trans kids from playing school sports. More than 170 anti-LGBTQ bills are making their way through state legislatures, many focused on trans kids and their access to health care and school sports.
“Noem’s executive orders show where her true priorities lie—playing politics with children’s lives in the middle of a pandemic,” Human Rights Campaign president Alphonso David said. “These orders cannot withstand legal scrutiny. Transgender kids are kids, and they deserve the right to live full lives free from abuse, stigmatization, and danger.”