Transgender rights are taking center stage in the state of South Dakota as lawmakers have been fighting it out over anti-transgender measures. Legislators in the state have introduced a total of four bills so far this year.
Just last week, the South Dakota House of Representatives approved House Bill 1108 . Known as the “Don’t Say Trans” bill, the legislation would prevent K-7 public school teachers from teaching students about gender identity or gender expression. The bill passed the South Dakota House by a vote of 39-30, and is now headed to the state’s Senate. If the legislation is approved there, it will head to the desk of Republican Governor Kristi Noem. To date, she has not yet given any indication as to whether she would sign the bill into law.
“This bill is a harmful effort to harm transgender youth that will have ramifications for every South Dakotan,” said Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “The people of South Dakota know their state cannot stay true to South Dakotan values with a bill like this one the books. If passed, the legislature will have delivered a self-inflicted wound against the entire state.”
This week, the South Dakota House of Representatives began testimony on HB 1225. The bill would force transgender kids to play sports according to the gender on their birth certificates. Two of the bill’s opponents testified on Tuesday and supporters of the bill are expected to testify on Thursday morning with a vote on the bill taking place shortly after. The bill is almost an exact clone of the recently tabled SB 49, the South Dakota Senate’s version of the bill. If the bill were to become law, it would radically change the state’s current policy and go against policies adopted by organizations such as the NCAA and the International Olympic Committee
Earlier in the month, HB 1205, was defeated. The bill would have protected parents and guardians of transgender minors from any adverse governmental action for denying their minor treatment or support for their gender dysphoria. The measurecwas widely seen as an attemot at erasing transgender children.
According to Ian Palmquist, the senior director of programs for the Equality Federation, South Dakota is a place for central concern in 2019 for LGBT advocates keeping an eye on anti-LGBT bills. He also says there is a total of 78 state anti-LGBT bills, with 18 bills in 10 states that are specifically anti-transgender.