North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum vetoed a bill Wednesday that would have unfairly discriminated against trans girls that wished to compete in K-12 sports as their identified gender.
Gov. Burgum’s decision comes as similar legislation and additional bills targeting trans youth and adults move through the state legislatures of more than 30 states.
According to the Bismarck Tribune, Gov. Burgum decided to veto the bill because he believes the protocols already established by the North Dakota High School Activities Association (NDHSAA) regulating trans individuals’ participation in sports are effective.
“North Dakota has fairness in girls’ and boys’ sports in large part because of the caring and thoughtful leadership of the [NDHSAA] Board and its members,” Gov. Burgum said. “We have every confidence they will continue to ensure a level playing field for the more than 27,000 students who participate in North Dakota high school sports.”
The NDHSAA currently allows trans boys to compete in male sports leagues if they have undergone testosterone treatments and allows trans girls to compete in female sports leagues after one year of testosterone suppressant treatments. While tying trans youth participation in sports to testosterone levels remains a debated topic, the NDHSAA does provide a path to participation that doesn’t outright exclude trans girls from competing as their identified gender, which the bill Gov. Burgum vetoed would have done.
“To date there has not been a single recorded incident of a transgender girl attempting to play on a North Dakota girls’ team,” Gov. Burgum added.
Tri-State Transgender President Katrina Koesterman lauded Gov. Burgum’s decision, saying his veto “sends a loud message to other lawmakers across the country considering similar legislation: Stop the attacks on transgender youth.”
The bill still has a shot at becoming law in the state though as the North Dakota House and Senate mull whether to override Gov. Burgum’s veto. Based on the initial vote counts on the bill in each legislative body, the state House likely has enough votes to override the veto, but the margin is thinner in the state Senate. Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner told the Bismarck Tribune that the Senate would put an override to a vote if the House does the same.
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