Republican governor shocks North Dakota, vetoes bill banning trans girls from sports

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There has been a tide of anti-trans paranoia washing over America’s red states during the past year. Thirty-five bills have been introduced by state legislators to limit or prohibit transgender women from competing in women’s athletics. There were only two in 2019.

However, this week has seen some significant pushback in multiple states.

Republican North Dakota governor Doug Burgum surprised a lot of people by vetoing a bill that would prohibit transgender girls from participating in women’s sports.

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The bill, known as H.B. 1298, passed in the state Senate 27-20 last Thursday and 69-25 in the House on Wednesday.

However, Burgum vetoed it because in North Dakota, there isn’t an issue with trans girls playing sports.

“There is no evidence to suggest this is true,” he wrote. “To date, there has not been a single recorded incident of a transgender girl attempting to play on a North Dakota girls’ team. This bill’s blanket prohibitions do not extend to students attending tribal or privately funded schools, thereby creating the potential for an unlevel playing field.”

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He also added that the North Dakota High School Activities Association already has a law on the books that requires trans girls to undergo testosterone suppression treatment for a full year before joining a girls’ sports team.

The state Senate will only attempt to override the veto if the House does as well. If the votes remain the same as the initial vote, the attempt will fail.

By vetoing the bill, Burgum illustrates the fact that there was no real reason for the legislation but for conservative legislators to gain political capital off the tide of trans paranoia sweeping through America’s red states. It was a brave move for him to stand up against his own party.


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The paranoia surrounding trans girls in sports looks a lot like the right-wing campaign against allowing trans people to use the bathroom of their gender from a few years ago.

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Conservatives claimed that men were dressing as women under the guise of being transgender to assault them. But, the facts showed that there were no assaults of that nature in any states that passed laws allowing trans people to use the bathroom of their gender.

The news from North Dakota comes as three other states are rejecting anti-trans legislation as well.

In Kansas, Democratic Governor Laura Kelly said she will veto a bill passed by House Republicans that aims to prohibit trans girls from playing sports in school.

Louisiana Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards recently announced he’s against any new legislation that would prohibit sports participation for trans youth or limit gender-affirming healthcare.

Bills targeting trans people in North Carolina, Florida, Montana, Missouri, and Florida have all recently been set aside.

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Chase Strangio, staff attorney for the ACLU and transgender rights activist, believes the recent string of legal victories should be attributed to trans rights activists. “Though this session has been brutal. Three Republican governors have vetoed (in one way or another) anti-trans laws,” he tweeted. “That is a testament to incredible organizing. Forever in awe of trans organizers.”

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