The Biden administration is condemning a new South Dakota law that prevents biological boys from competing in girls’ sports, saying it undermines the nation’s core values and will lead to children being bullied.
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem signed the law, making it the 10th state in the nation with a transgender-centric law limiting female sports to biological females. The text of the law says, in part, “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 laws gained traction when two high school athletes in Connecticut who are biologically male but identify as female won more than a dozen state titles in the girls’ division.
The Biden administration, though, says laws such as the one in South Dakota are wrong. The new law was officially labeled an “Act to protect fairness in women's sports.”
“These anti-transgender bills are nothing more than bullying disguised as legislation and undermine our nation’s core values,” White House Assistant Press Secretary Kevin Munoz told 19thNews.com when asked about the South Dakota law. “These bills don’t keep kids safe – they 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.”
But others say the laws are necessary.
"Every girl deserves to know that she can compete on a level playing field in sports,” said Meridian Baldacci of the Family Policy Alliance. She added, “Female student athletes in South Dakota now have that protection at all levels of competition."
The controversy hasn’t been limited to state legislatures. USA Swimming and the NCAA each changed their rules in recent weeks after Penn’s Lia Thomas, who swam on the men’s team for three years before swimming on the women’s team this season, broke multiple records as a female.
Under the new rules by USA Swimming, a transgender woman must have a testosterone level of “less than 5 nmol/L” continuously for at least three years. Additionally, a three-person panel comprised of independent medical experts will determine if the transgender athlete has a “competitive advantage” over biological women based on “prior physical development of the athlete as a male.”
“The development of the elite policy therefore acknowledges a competitive difference in the male and female categories and the disadvantages this presents in elite head-to-head competition,” a USA Swimming statement said.
A group of 16 Penn swimmers and divers and their families released an open letter, asking the university and the Ivy League to abide by the new USA Swimming rules.
“Lia’s inclusion with unfair biological advantages means that we have lost competitive opportunities,” the letter reads. “... It has often felt like Penn, our school, our league, and the NCAA did not support us.”
Photo credit: Unsplash/Morgan Sarkissian
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.