Know Where You Stand: The Fight for Fairness in Girls' Sports

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Know Where You Stand: The Fight for Fairness in Girls’ Sports


By: Governor Kristi Noem

November 3, 2023


It’s plain and simple – only girls should play girls’ sports. This is a matter of basic biological fairness.


Many Republican governors across the country have signed laws protecting girls’ sports. I signed the toughest women’s sports bill in the nation last year to ensure that sports in South Dakota would remain fair. But signing bills into law is not the finish line. We cross the finish line when we can promise fairness for all women in athletics across the nation.


I recently led eight of my fellow Republican governors in urging the NCAA to rewrite its Transgender Student Athlete Policy. The policy currently holds that “transgender student-athlete participation for each sport [is] to be determined by the policy for the national governing body of that sport.”


This policy does not protect fairness in women’s sports. I was proud to step up and call on the NCAA to change their rule.


Earlier this year, I participated in a roundtable on protecting girls’ sports with Riley Gaines. Riley worked her entire life to compete at the collegiate level, but Lia Thomas, a biological male, was allowed to compete in women’s swimming. Against all odds, Riley tied with Lia. Now, normally, when two swimmers tie for first place, they share the top spot on the podium. That wasn’t the case for Riley – she was told “we just have to give the trophy to Lia.”


Suddenly, the decade of hard work and the countless hours spent in the pool meant nothing. Riley’s lifetime of achievement was ripped away by someone who shouldn’t have even been in the race – all for a photo op.


Riley’s story is powerful – and she’s not the only athlete that this has happened to. I commend her for speaking up and fighting for what is right.


I have had excellent conversations with NCAA President, and former Republican Governor of Massachusetts, Charlie Baker. He understands my concern and has been eager to find the best path forward to protect the integrity of college athletics. I hope that he will continue to drive the Committee on Competitive Safeguards to rewrite this Transgender Student Athlete Policy.


This is an effort that every Republican Governor should stand up and support – especially those who claim to be conservatives.


As governors, we can’t just sit at our desks and sign bills. We have to enforce those laws. We have to take action to ensure the integrity of those laws. And we have to step up to protect, preserve, and encourage fairness for our citizens.


I know where I stand. I stand with our young women and girls.