Like a number of the state governing bodies for athletics have introduced comprehensive programs to incorporate transgender athletes into safe and fair competition, the South Dakota High School Activities Association finds itself under fire from conservative critics who argue that the concept of athletes self-determining gender is anathema to the very culture of South Dakota.
The man leading the legislation that would curtail transgender opportunities in South Dakota is Representative Roger Hunt, a Republican from Brandon, S.D., who has been quick to distance his state from any decisions made in other states facing the same dilemma.
“This is South Dakota,” Hunt told the Rapid City Journal. “We haven’t adopted the East Coast culture. We haven’t adopted the West Coast culture. We maintain our own culture.”
Maintaining those roots may require a “visual inspection” of an athlete’s genitalia to determine which sex they should compete with. Hunt insists that all gender is determined at conception, and that any attempts to change that identity should be formally banned.
While some state representatives have offered support for Hunt’s proposal, others from within his own party have been quick to voice discomfort with the use of legislative process to intervene in something which is essentially a unilateral governance decision on the part of the schools.
“This definitely is a minority population we’re addressing,” Rep. Kris Langer, R-Dell Rapids, told the Journal. “It’s such a small group to be legislating. No policy, or rescinding this, is the best.”
Meanwhile, at least one South Dakota Republican wasn’t directly opposed to the policy at all.
“I believe they have the best interest of children as a whole in their hearts,” (Rapid City Senator Craig) Tieszen said.