I want to read Equality South Dakota’s reflection on the 2022 Legislative Session and believe their claim of “success“:
This year more than ever, people showed up. Our 2022 Visibility and Advocacy Day, formerly known as Lobby Day, was the most successful to date with over 100 people visiting the capitol to meet with their lawmakers one-on-one.
In addition to our event’s success, we saw thousands of people from across the state make phone calls and send letters to their legislators asking them to oppose bills which aim to harm trans kids and their families. While Senate Bill 46 was eventually signed into law, it is important for us to know that this did not go down without a fight.
With the power of our community that took action, some for the first time, we close the 2022 South Dakota Legislative Session knowing the best days are ahead of us. The future of equality in South Dakota is bright [“Equality South Dakota Reflects on the 2022 Legislative Session,” EqSD, 2022.03.31].
But the sad fact is that the future looks darker for transgender rights in South Dakota and elsewhere, as the Legislature passed a transgender athlete ban after failing to do so in previous Sessions, and as the controversy over transgender female Lia Thomas‘s NCAA swimming victories drove key business allies away from opposing such discrimination:
“It struck a chord,” said lawyer and lobbyist Dave Zimbeck, who represents the Sioux Falls Sports Authority, one of several organizations that publicly opposed transgender sports legislation in 2021 but which stayed out of the fray this year. The group’s strategy changed due to shifting public sentiment and the belief that the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which stages championship events in South Dakota, no longer plans to pull events from states that pass transgender legislation.
“Lia Thomas came along and Fox News and other outlets made her the poster child for their cause,” said Zimbeck, whose organization works to lure sporting events to Sioux Falls in conjunction with First Premier Bank and Sanford Health. “A lot of people who were in the middle on this issue saw the physical stature of (Thomas) and her success and had trouble getting past that. We made the decision that there was a lot of futility in jumping in and taking a big stand, that this thing was on a fast track to approval.”
…Organizations such as the South Dakota Board of Regents, South Dakota Chamber of Commerce, Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce and Visit Rapid City also remained neutral this year after previously working to defeat transgender sports bans. In 2021, these groups played a role in Noem refusing to sign House Bill 1217 despite the Republican governor earlier declaring support for the measure, a reversal that drew heat from far-right conservatives in South Dakota and nationally.
At this year’s session in Pierre, when Noem brought her own bill and touted it as protecting fairness in female sports, she encountered less resistance [Stu Whitney, “National Political Winds Blew Away Some Opposition to S.D. Transgender Athlete Ban,” South Dakota News Watch, 2022.03.29].
When one’s strongest allies abandon the cause and South Dakota joins twelve other states in locking kids into the gender identity indicated by their birth certificate, it’s hard to say we are succeeding in building a brighter future for transgender rights.
- Michael Shermer writes that allowing transgender females who transition after puberty to participate in female sports constitutes “unmistakeable undeniable unethical unfairness” because “puberty is a performance enhancing drug.”
- The Union Cycliste Internationale is not allowing transgender female Emily Bridges to compete in the British National Omnium Championship because Bridges is still registered as male. Thomas won a men’s points race in the British Universities Championships in Glasgow in February but finished near last in two men’s races last year.