Updated Feb 7, 2022 - Politics & Policy

White House condemns South Dakota's trans athlete ban

Photo of Kristi Noem speaking from a podium
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference on July 11, 2021, in Dallas. Photo: Brandon Bell via Getty Images

The Biden administration on Monday condemned South Dakota's new transgender athlete ban, calling it "nothing more than bullying disguised as legislation."

Why it matters: The law, signed last week by Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, bars trans girls and women from participating in school sports that align with their gender identity. It's the 10th state in the U.S. to implement such a measure, according to think tank Movement Advancement Project.

What they're saying: "The unfortunate reality is that Republican legislators in South Dakota and across the country are leveling legislative attacks that target transgender kids and their families in order to score political points," White House Assistant Press Secretary Kevin Munoz said in a statement first reported by The 19th.

  • "These anti-transgender bills are nothing more than bullying disguised as legislation and undermine our nation’s core values," Munoz added. "[T]hey put children and their families at risk of bullying and discrimination and, according to one recent study, damage the mental wellbeing of young people who deserve love and support."
  • "President Biden continues to call on the Senate to swiftly pass the Equality Act to protect Americans from discrimination – and the White House will continue calling on state lawmakers to advance equality, rather than discrimination, this legislative cycle."
  • Munoz did not respond to queries about possible legal action against the state.

Catch up quick: Conservatives have argued that biological differences make it unfair for cisgender women and girls to compete against trans athletes who were assigned male at birth. The bill claims to "protect fairness in women's sports."

Details: The ban allows students and educational institutions to sue any organizational entity — including school districts and activities associations — that causes them to suffer "direct or indirect harm" as a result of violating the law.

The big picture: 2021 saw a record number of bills targeting trans youth.

  • Fears about trans athletes have roots in wider LGBTQ terror that stretches to victim-blaming strategies in murder cases, a St. Edward’s University professor told Axios' Asher Price last October.

Go deeper: Elite trans athletes decry youth sports bans

Editor's note: The headline and story have been updated with a statement from the White House.

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