On Monday, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem said she will sign a bill barring transgender girls and women from participating in female sports leagues in the state (302475)

In sports, competition is generally based on fairness first, and a level playing field based on each sport’s rules. There are leagues and associations for men, and there are leagues and associations for women. Youth sports have essentially catered to boys, particularly football, in part because of the highly physical nature of the game.

In many states, youth sports programs are or have been co-ed. Because some of the smaller elementary, middle and high schools don’t have enough players to organize a girls team, girls have been granted the opportunity to join boys’ teams. In other instances, girls have simply been good enough to be a part of boys’ teams. There are stages when girls are often physically stronger and better than boys, but then puberty begins, and physiological changes occur.

In the eyes of many traditionalists, boys are boys, and girls are girls, and should play their sports separately. The increasing number of transgender athletes has widened the debate. Transgender is defined as people whose gender identity or expression does not match the sex they were assigned at birth. When President Joe Biden signed an executive order titled “Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation” in January, there was misinformation spread via various mediums asserting the order allows transgender athletes to compete on boys and girls teams representing the gender they identify as.

That is false. The order does not mandate changes to sports programs based on sex or gender identification. Some opposed to the possibility seek to ensure it doesn’t happen. Although no transgender girl currently plays in a female school sports league in South Dakota, the state’s governor, Republican Kristi Noem, a loyal supporter of former president Donald Trump, said on Monday she will sign a bill passed by the Legislature this week which bars transgender girls and women from participating in female sports leagues, an action that almost certainly will be challenged in federal court.

“In South Dakota, we’re celebrating #InternationalWomensDay by defending women’s sports! I’m excited to sign this bill very soon,” tweeted Noem.

Last week, Rep. Barbara Dittrich, a Republican member of the Wisconsin State Assembly, introduced the “Protecting Women in Sports Act,” legislation that bans transgender girls from participating in girls’ sports from kindergarten through college.

“In a fractured, well-meaning attempt at inclusion, women’s achievements have once again been put at great risk of loss,” said Dittrich. “Additionally, by ignoring the scientific biological fact that males have higher bone density,” she continued, “greater muscle mass and often greater height, women are being put in greater physical danger of greater injury in competition.”

Wisconsin’s Democratic Gov. Tony Evers shared encouraging words for transgender youth. “My message to Wisconsin’s transgender kids and students today is simple: I see you. You are welcome, you are wanted, and you belong.”