Noem: Let's ban transgenders from women's sports -- this time

AP Photo/James Nord, File

She’s running. Or at the very least, Kristi Noem wants to patch things up with her base almost a year after vetoing a bill that would have done exactly what the South Dakota governor now proposes.

Why? Because she’s running, and not just in 2024:

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said Tuesday she would propose a bill to ban transgender women and girls from participation in female school sports leagues.

The proposal, which will be considered during the legislative session in January, revives a debate in the Capitol that split Republicans last year. A similar bill ultimately died in March after the governor issued a “style and form veto” against it.

Noem had argued that bill would have been easily defeated in court and had other technical problems. But she also faced political fallout among social conservatives and issued executive orders that pushed high school sports and public universities to only allow women to compete in women’s sports if their birth certificate listed them as female.

Noem’s proposed bill would codify those orders, her office said Tuesday. She described them as an effort to ensure “an equal playing field” for women.

Read Allahpundit’s previous post for all the ways in which Noem took the worst-of-all-worlds approach to the bill, at least politically. In a nutshell, Noem insisted that the bill overreached by encroaching on the NCAA as well as K-12 athletics and would have allowed courts to throw it out. Others wouldn’t have minded having that fight first, however, and it’s not entirely clear that state law would yield to NCAA regulations anyway. Noem didn’t exactly endear herself to the T portion of the LGBTQ+ communities, nor most of its various other chapters for that matter.

As we turn the corner into an election cycle where Noem wants to win a second term, suddenly a fight looks pretty good to the incumbent:

So far it seems to be working. Noem probably doesn’t face much competition in the primary, but the previous veto is certainly aggravating enough to Noem’s MAGA-esque base to warrant some retrenching. The ACLU is providing a free boost to Noem’s strategy of bigfooting the GOP primary before it begins:

“Gov. Noem’s proposed legislation is clearly fueled by a fear and misunderstanding of transgender people in our state,” Jett Jonelis, American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota manager, said in response, according to the AP.

Presumably, Noem won’t get cold feet at the end this time. However, one has to wonder why Noem or other policymakers shift focus away from bans and more toward an accommodation that actually makes sense. Create a “trans” category for competition and allow athletes to choose: either compete in a trans category or the category of one’s biological sex. That would protect women’s sports from male encroachment while allowing trans athletes to compete against each other if they so choose. If states began adopting that model, it would likely put a lot of pressure on the NCAA to follow suit, and that would put an end to the ridiculous spectacles at UPenn and other places where men are crowding women out of athletic competition altogether.