North Dakota’s Transgender Sports Bill goes to the Governor

Rally at the North Dakota State Capitol.
Rally at the North Dakota State Capitol.(kfyr)
Published: Apr. 15, 2021 at 3:54 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR-TV) - The North Dakota State Legislature passed the controversial “Transgender Sports” Bill.

On Thursday afternoon, the state senate passed the bill 27 – 20 banning students from playing on sports teams that don’t match the sex of their original birth certificate.

Other states have enacted the law, while other governors, including Gov. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., have vetoed it.

Now, it’s North Dakota’s turn to decide, as Gov. Doug Burgum, R-N.D., will have it land on his desk in the coming days.

The argument on the senate floor Thursday afternoon focused on who’s rights were being protected or taken. Those against the bill pointed to the harm it would do on transgender students and the discrimination it carries.

“I don’t know the purpose of this bill, but when I was first elected, I told myself that on matters of conscience, I will vote my conscience,” Sen. Dick Dever, R-Bismarck, said before voting “nay”.

Opposition also took an economic stance by arguing larger national tournaments wouldn’t come to a state with a law like this on the books. This was backed by a statement from the NCAA earlier this week.

“Whether we like it or not, that’s the truth. And there’s a multi-million-dollar impact potentially from doing this,” Sen. Judy Lee, R-West Fargo, said.

Those supporting the bill its intent is to protect scholarships and opportunities for biological females by not having to compete against biological males.

Lawmakers have been bombarded with emails and comments from constituents, and they took to the Senate floor to back their claims.

“This is not about hatred or love… this is about Title IX and women’s rights and girls’ rights to have an even playing field. This is about feminism,” Sen. Janne Myrdal, R-Edinburg, said.

The morality of the bill was at the issue’s core for months.

Many arguing it’s intent is against transgender students. Others argued condoning transgenderism is “against God.”

“For us to begin to even consider things like this, to me, is beyond comprehension. What we are becoming is God ourselves, and now we are going to create who we feel is male and female,” Sen. David Clemens, R-West Fargo, said.

The North Dakota High School Activities Association already has a policy for transgender students. If a student undergoes hormone therapy for a year, they may participate in the sport that doesn’t match the sex of their original birth certificate.

However, some lawmakers are skeptical about that policy in practice.

Over the past week, lawmakers went back and forth on what form the bill should take: either as a law or a study.

After the two chambers negotiated, the final result was a combination of the two.

The House passed it 69-25 on Wednesday.

“We are incredibly disappointed in today’s vote and we will do everything in our power to push for a veto by Governor Burgum. There has been overwhelming opposition to HB 1298 from multiple sectors, including business, education, healthcare, and advocacy,” said Brandi Hardy of the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition.

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