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Gov. Kristi Noem Proposes New ‘Fairness in Women’s Sports’ Legislation

Marie Finn

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Conservative South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem released a new version of the “Fairness in Women’s Sports” bill that she vetoed earlier this year.

“This is about fairness. Every young woman deserves an equal playing field where she can achieve success, but common sense tells us that males have an unfair physical advantage over females in athletic competition,” Noem commented.

The recent update of the legislation will prevent students attending state schools from participating on sports teams that don’t match the biological sex that is listed on their birth certificate. 


“It is for those reasons that only girls should be competing in girls’ sports,” Noem continued. “Women have fought long and hard for equal athletic opportunities, and South Dakota will defend them, but we have to do it in a smart way.”

The legislation states that only female athletes, “based on their biological sex,” can compete in athletics that are designated for women, or girls. It also clearly defines biological sex as “either female or male as described by the sex listed on the athlete’s official birth certificate.” 

The bill also allows student-athletes to take legal action if they suffer harm as a result of a violation of the Act, or retaliation by their school for reporting a violation. The organizations themselves will not be liable to transgender students for complying with the proposed rules. 


Noem inflamed conservative critics in March when she nixed a previous version of H.B. 1217, for opening the state up to potential litigation from the NCAA. She kicked the bill back for revisions, but the House rebuffed the changes, and she ultimately vetoed the legislation. 

“This legislation does not have the problematic provisions that were included in last year’s House Bill 1217,” Noem concluded. “Those flawed provisions would have led to litigation for our state, as well as for the families of young South Dakota athletes – male and female alike.”