It also makes South Dakota the latest Republican-led state to approve such a measure following a slew of similar initiatives nationwide last year.
SB 46 stipulates that “only female students, based on their biological sex, may participate in any team, sport, or athletic event designated as being for females, women, or girls.” The legislation defines “biological sex” as the sex listed on a student’s birth certificate that was “issued at or near the time of the student’s birth.” The bill is set to go into effect this summer.
While sex is a category that refers broadly to physiology, a person’s gender is an innate sense of identity. The factors that go into determining the sex listed on a birth certificate may include anatomy, genetics and hormones, and there is broad natural variation in each of these categories. For this reason, critics have said the language of “biological sex,” as used in this legislation, is overly simplistic and misleading.
Noem said on Thursday that she was “thankful to see this bill get support from the legislators and make it to my desk. And that now we will ensure that we have fairness and a level playing field for female athletes here in the state of South Dakota — the K-12 level and the university level.”
The debate over the inclusion of transgender athletes, particularly women and girls, has become a political flashpoint in recent years, especially among conservatives.
Last year, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Montana, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia enacted similar sports bans, infuriating LGBTQ advocates who argue conservatives are creating an issue where there isn’t one.
Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, condemned the new South Dakota law on Friday, saying in a statement that “the growing number of political attacks creates an environment where trans students suffer.”
“All kids should be supported — by their families, their schools and their communities. South Dakota has turned its back on kids who are just trying to be kids,” he said.
CNN’s Joe Sutton contributed to this report.