A house panel is passing a bill that prevents transgender girls from playing in high school girls’ sports.
Proponents say it’s meant to preserve the integrity of female sports. Opponents say it targets the transgender community in South Dakota.
The bill says sports designated as being female are only available to participants who are female based on their biological sex.
The state, or athletic association, will monitor that by requiring every high school and college level sports team in, or playing in, South Dakota to collect a written statement from every student athlete verifying the athlete’s age and whether they’ve taken performance enhancing drugs in the last year. It also asks for a student’s biological sex as ascertained at or before birth “in accordance with the student’s genetics and reproductive biology.”
Rhonda Milstead is the prime sponsor of the bill. She says if one girl gets replaced by a male on a sports team it’s a problem.
“They deserve the right not to get hurt,” Milstead says. “It’s proven over and over again. Males are biologically different. They’re stronger, they’re faster, they’re all of those things. Why do we argue with that? Why don’t we let boys play with boys and girls play with girls?”
There are currently no transgender girls playing sports in South Dakota. The South Dakota High School Activities Association policy for transgender athletes has been in place for nine years.
Dan Swartos is the director of the association, which sanctions sports for roughly 40,000 student athletes across South Dakota. He says during those nine years only one trans girl has played high school girls sports.
“We’ve never had a school bring this up to us as an issue,” Swartos says. “We’re talking about a very small portion of students.”
Swartos says there is large support among schools for the current policy.
The house committee voted in favor of the bill 11 to two. The ACLU of South Dakota says it violates Title IX protections, saying it discriminates based on sex.