Governor Signs Controversial Law Into Effect

On Tuesday night, North Dakota’s Republican governor, Doug Burgum, signed two restrictions on transgender athletes into law, barring transgender girls and women from participating on female sports teams at the elementary, secondary, and tertiary levels.

The laws were approved by an overwhelming majority in the House and Senate, making a veto impossible. Even if the governor had vetoed or refused to sign the statutes, they would probably have passed.

After two years of high school sports in North Dakota, Governor Burgum said there still hadn’t been any incident of a biological male  playing or asking to play on a North Dakota girls’ team.” This is even though more than 27,000 students are involved in high school sports in North Dakota.

Nonetheless, he added that the state legislature has “resoundingly concluded” that more limits on girls’ sports beyond the current standards should be written into law.

However, Burgum said that concerns voiced last session about such restrictions compromising the capacity to organize regional and national collegiate competitions have not materialized in the approximately 20 states that have approved similar laws.

At least 19 additional states have banned transgender people from participating in sports. To counteract LGBTQ+ rights, Republican politicians around the United States have introduced hundreds of bills. Many of these bills focus specifically on restricting the rights of transgender persons in areas such as sports, health care, restrooms, the workplace, and educational institutions.

The regulation to prohibit blanket bans on transgender athletes was proposed by the Biden administration last month but still must go through a lengthy approval process.

In 2021, Burgum rejected a law that prevented transgender students from participating in female school sports teams. There weren’t enough votes in the House or Senate that year to overturn the veto.

New legislation was drafted this year to make that statute applicable to higher education institutions.