North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum on Wednesday vetoed a bill that would ban transgender girls from playing in girls high school sports following a similar move earlier this year by South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.
The bill passed overwhelmingly in the North Dakota House, which could have the votes to override Burgum’s veto if it chooses, KX News reported. But the margin was much slimmer in the state Senate, meaning the measure is likely dead.
Burgum, a Republican, said in a veto message reported by KX News that the state’s high school sports association should be the organization to decide how to keep a level playing field. He also said, “the bill would unnecessarily inject the state into a local issue by creating a ban with myriad unforeseen consequences.”
“To date, there has not been a single recorded incident of a transgender girl attempting to play on a North Dakota girls team,” Burgum said in the veto message, KX News reported. “Further, NDHSAA already has regulations in place for participation in sex-separated interscholastic contests by transgender students. These regulations require transgender girls to undergo testosterone suppression treatment…for a full calendar year before they are eligible to compete.”
Republicans in the North Dakota legislature, however, said the bill would have ensured a level playing field for girls playing high school sports.
“We need to keep women on an even playing field,” Rep. Kathy Skroch, a Republican, said during House debate on the bill. She noted differences between women and men in height, weight, heart size and even lung capacity. “There is a reason why there is separation of boys and girls sports.”
Opponents of the bill, however, lauded Burgum’s decision and slammed GOP legislators for advancing the bill.
“It was obvious from the beginning that this discriminatory legislation was about creating solutions to problems that don’t exist and, in the process, harming some of the most vulnerable people in our state,” ACLU of North Dakota Campaigns Director Libby Skarin said Wednesday night.
In this April 10, 2020, file photo, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum speaks at the state Capitol in Bismarck, N.D. Burgum vetoed a bill that would have banned transgender girls from participating in high school sports. (Mike McCleary/The Bismarck Tribune via AP, File)
“This is such beautiful news for trans kids across the state,” she added in a tweet.
Noem, also a Republican, took harsh criticism from the right after she vetoed a similar bill passed by her state’s Republican-controlled legislature. She later issued two executive orders aimed at keeping only biological females on girls sports teams in both high school and college.
Noem said this was necessary because the legislature failed “to accept my proposed revisions” to its initial bill. Noem also said she would aim to have legislators address the issue in a special session.
The North Dakota bill that Burgum vetoed only addressed high school sports.
Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson also was criticized for a veto of another transgender-related bill in his state. Hutchinson vetoed a bill that would have banned hormone treatment and other medical interventions for transgender youth.
“This is the first law in the nation that invokes the state between medical decisions, parents who consent to that and the decision of the patient. And so, this goes way too far. And in fact, it doesn’t even have a grandfather clause [for] those young people that are under hormonal treatment,” Hutchinson said on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
He said the bill was “overbroad” and “extreme.”
Former President Trump attacked Hutchinson over the decision.
“Asa Hutchinson, the lightweight RINO Governor of Arkansas, just vetoed a Bill that banned the CHEMICAL CASTRATION OF CHILDREN,” Trump said earlier this month. “Bye-bye Asa,’ that’s the end of him!”
The Arkansas legislature overrode Hutchinson’s veto, something that doesn’t appear likely in the case of Burgum’s veto.
Burgum Wednesday also vetoed a bill that would have banned statewide mask mandates like the one he issued last year to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic, KX News reported.
Fox News’ Evie Fordham contributed to this report.