South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem vetoed a bill that would have banned transgender athletes from competing on female teams, saying she took issue with the “style and form” of the legislation.
I believe that boys should play boys’ sports, and girls should play girls’ sports. I’m returning House Bill 1217 with the following recommendations as to STYLE and FORM. (1/)
— Governor Kristi Noem (@govkristinoem) March 19, 2021
“I support this legislation and hope that House Bill 1217, with the changes I am proposing, becomes law,” Noem said in a statement on Friday.
Noem said the wording of the legislative was problematic, arguing it left schools and team players vulnerable to lawsuits and created an “unworkable administrative burden on schools” by forcing them to submit yearly forms proving student athletes’ sex, age and lack of “performance enhancing drugs.”
She also rejected the bill’s ban of transgender athletes at the collegiate level, saying North Dakota’s colleges would be put at a disadvantage since other states would still allow transgender males to compete against them.
“While I certainly do not always agree with the actions these sanctioning bodies take, I understand that collegiate athletics requires such a system—a fifty-state patchwork is not workable,” she explained.
Instead of signing the bill, Noem introduced a new initiative that will focus on defending “fairness in women’s sports.”
The coalition, called “Defend Title IX now,” will rally people in support of a federal law that prohibits discrimination based on sex, Noem said.
Many conservatives slammed Noem for turning against the bill at the last minute.
“Gov. Noem had an opportunity to protect women and girls by signing the Fairness in Women’s Sports bill, but instead she pandered to the demands of special interests,” Alliance Defending Freedom General Counsel Kristen Waggoner said in a statement.
“In what was an abuse of her ‘style and form’ veto power, she gutted protections for collegiate athletes and took away legal recourse for girls forced to compete against biological boys,” Waggoner added.