Dakota Gov. Noem says she'll sign legislature's transgender sports bill after minor fixes made

Noem hopes the newly formed coalition on transgenders in women's sports will provide strength in numbers in addressing the NCAA.

Published: March 22, 2021 11:38am

Updated: March 22, 2021 2:14pm

South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem said Monday she'll sign a state legislature bill that would ban transgender athletes from competing in women's sports – after creating a conservative uproar last week by vetoing the measure. 

Noem, considered a top potential 2024 presidential candidate, said at a press conference that she'll sign the bill after legislators make what she considers minor changes – limiting the ban to high school and elementary schools for male athletes who identify as female athletes. 

The governor does want such a ban on college athletics at this time, she said, over concerns about the National Collegiate Athletic Association's standing on the matter.

"The NCAA is a private association," Noem said. "That means they can do what they want to do. And even though I fundamentally disagree with them when it comes to this issue, if South Dakota passes a law that's against their policy, they will likely take punitive action against us."

Still, Noem announced Monday the formation of a nationwide coalition to address the issue of fair athletics at the collegiate level.

The 'Defend Title IX Now' coalition will look into how the federal law known as Title IX has already helped level the playing field for women in college sports – including funding. 

Noem said once several other states join the coalition, the NCAA will most likely not punish the entire group.

"A coalition brought big enough where the NCAA cannot punish us all, then we can guarantee fairness at the collegiate level," she said. "It's clear that each and every one of us as men and women have exceptional gifts and differences. They should be celebrated. But those differences are very real, and the physical differences are very real."

Noem defended her stance by adding that men tend to be stronger and faster with larger hearts and a totally different body make-up than women.

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