Tuesday night, North Dakota became the most recent state to prohibit transgender women and girls from participating in female sporting teams from kindergarten through college.
The Republican governor of North Dakota, Doug Burgum, signed the new regulations into law less than a week after the Biden administration intervened in the contentious discussion around transgender sports. Schools might prohibit some transgender athletes from playing on sports teams that correspond to their gender identity under the government’s proposed rule change, but they couldn’t impose a general ban.
If and when Mr. Biden’s suggested amendment is implemented, North Dakota legislation and other similar laws may come into conflict with federal restrictions. Legal authorities claim that the federal regulation would supersede state legislation.
The federal Department of Education cautioned that its rule change was only a proposal and required public comment. laws like North Dakota’s. It was made clear, nevertheless, that “all government-funded educational programs and activities must comply with Title IX and the Department’s regulations implementing Title IX.”
According to the Movement Advancement Project, a liberal think tank that maps laws, at least 19 other states, mostly in conservative regions of the country, prohibit transgender girls or women from participating on sports teams that correspond to their gender identity. The specifics of the bans vary depending on the location.
Participation in sport by transgender girls and women has become an increasingly divisive issue as political leaders and sport sanctions groups have struggled to address the issue in a way that respects transgender athletes, as well as concerns about competitive fairness .
The issue is part of a much broader push by Republican lawmakers this year to regulate the lives of transgender people. In early April, the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy group, said it was pursuing more than 800 anti-LGBTQ laws across the country, ranging from toilet bans to restrictions on drag shows to restricting or banning medical treatments for gender transitions as gender-affirming care.
Mr. Burgum vetoed similar legislation on transgender athletes in 2021, noting that “there has not been a single documented incident of a transgender girl attempting to play on a North Dakota girls’ sports team.”
And last week, Mr. Burgum vetoed a bill that would have given state employees and teachers the right to ignore the preferred pronouns of transgender students and staff.
In a statement Tuesday night that accompanied the two bills he signed – one for K-12 athletes, the other for collegiate athletes – Mr Burgum said he was still not aware of any case of transgender girls asking to be in to play on a team. However, he acknowledged that lawmakers had “strongly stated” that there should be additional restrictions.