Kristi Noem

Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota was a strong Trump supporter. She continues not to display independent leadership of her state.

via The Guardian

The governor is being duplicitous.

Governor Kristi Noem has issued a “style and form” veto, essentially asking South Dakota lawmakers to rewrite House Bill 1217 banning transgender girls from competing in athletics. A huge slice of Christendom is displeased with the veto. Secular progressives are displeased that she did not veto the bill outright.

The governor was trying to please everyone and she ended up pleasing no one. Actually the governor was trying to boost her own profile as a possible presidential contender in 2024.

In the guise of “protecting women’s sports” Alliance Defending Freedom — an anti-LGBTQ hate group — has gone around the country in an effort to pass bills like HB1217. ADF lawyers have written the boilerplate for the bills. ADF has little interest in protecting anything other than scripture.

ADF is also representing three cisgender women suing a Connecticut school district over its inclusion of transgender girls in sports. If ADF wins that suit then the school district is likely on the hook for substantial legal fees payable to ADF. If ADF loses the suit then they get nothing. The combination of scripture and greed is at work.

The anti-transgender cause has become enormously popular among Republicans who have been known to coddle the Christian right from time to time. Indeed, the findings in the bill in question are very short on science. They mostly rely on comparing the performance advantages of men over women which is not applicable to the performance of transgender females.

Of course there is a reference to that UK study of adults who transitioned as adults. It is not at all applicable.

Standford University fellow, Dr. Jack Turban knows a thing or two about transgender youth and medical science. He is one of the nation’s leading experts in this field. Dr. Turban wrote an excellent piece for Scientific American on the subject of trans girls participating in sports. Apparently no GOPer has read it. Selective observation is part of the Republican culture.

More striking is the fact that there exists neither a finding in the bill nor evidence that there is any issue in South Dakota. All this noise is over a nonexistent peril.

Governor Noem is trying to appease her Republican base which has been fed a constant diet of anti-transgender BS in the service of Alliance Defending Freedom. At the same time Noem is trying to avoid the litigation and boycotts that will certainly result from this measure.

The governor has drafted numerous revisions. Among these is supposedly limiting the ban to elementary and secondary schools (conceding that attempting to regulate the NCAA is a very bad idea).

However, if you look at her revisions, she fails to strike through the language referring to “an institution of higher education.”

Shit fits are in abundance. None of them come from South Dakota. According to Brian S. Brown on behalf of International Organization for the Family:

South Dakota Republican Governor Kristi Noem has vetoed a bill that would protect girls’ and women’s sports, caving into pressure from LGBT activists and powerful corporate interests.

Austin Institute (founded by anti-LGBTQ crusader Mark Regnerus) is intellectually dishonest. While they are correct that males have advantages over females, their statement attempts to demonstrate that research confirms that transgender females have an advantage over cisgender females. Note the weasel words:

What mountains of evidence and piles of academic research studies and journal articles confirm is that biological males, particularly once puberty has commenced, have stubborn and even permanent athletic advantages over biological females, advantages that no cross-sex hormone regimen can erase.

Hate Group Leader Tony Perkins of Family Research Council contributes his own bullshit:

For Noem, protecting girls’ sports isn’t a heavy lift. The one-time athlete and mom of three doesn’t need to look far to find enormous support for the battle her state is waging. Thanks to Joe Biden, who started a gender war on day one, bills like the one South Dakota is considering have caught fire — fanning out across almost 30 states and becoming law in two. Across gender, party, and generational lines, Americans have come out in force, demanding an end to the transgender agenda that’s destroying girls’ competition. In a state that Donald Trump won by 26 points, the idea of keeping biological boys off the girls’ teams isn’t radical — it’s practical.

“Across gender, party, and generational lines” is based on a retweet of a tweet that misrepresents a survey by Politico. Where is Mr, Perkins’ evidence that transgender females are “destroying girls’ competition?” Furthermore, I would like to know who is the primary editor of this supposed agenda. How can I view a copy?

The retweeter, by the way, is John Daniel Davidson who writes unhinged anti-LGBTQ sophistry for The Federalist. Yet another defender of the faith™.

I could go on as I have about two-dozen similar odes to the toads but you get the idea. Even if these bans are popular that does not mean that they are the right thing to do. It means that we have work to do. That starts with pointing out the lack of evidence supporting such bans; both in terms of science and actual effect.

Again, this was all engendered by Alliance Defending Freedom which is trying to bolster a case in one state — Connecticut. The South Dakota bill doesn’t even indicate how many people might be affected by the ban. How many trans girls are competing in pre-secondary and secondary school athletics?

The arithmetic is simple and admittedly conjectural. If 0.6% of the population is transgender then perhaps 0.3% are trans females. If 25% of those are competing in athletics then we are down to 0.075%. Again this is hypothetical and not supported by evidence. It is so because legislators in South Dakota and other states have failed to provide meaningful data.

South Dakota elementary schools have, on average, 183 students. To find one trans girl competing would require a survey of more than seven schools.

I expect some version of this bill to be enacted. While it affects very few students directly it has the effect of marginalizing trans kids on the whole. That would have serious consequences which none of these legislators or the governor have considered.

People need to understand that none of these kids volunteered to be objects of ridicule. Furthermore, competing in athletics is an important part of the school experience for some. I am a klutz. Competing in high school meant duplicate bridge and chess. Dealing cards and moving chess pieces are probably not aerobic pursuits. (I was a terrific bridge player and a terrible chess player.)

The passage of legislation with no underlying evidentiary findings is reprehensible. Governor Kristi Noem should have vetoed the bill outright.

Related content: