A South Dakota Senate panel has ended a proposal to change the state’s existing transgender athlete policy, ensuring that student athletes will continue to be allowed to compete as their identified gender.
The bill that had been proposed by South Dakota state Sen. Jim Bolin, numbered SB49, would have forced all athletes in the state to compete as the gender identified on their birth certificates. Yet, for the Senate to take up the bill, it first had to pass the Senate Education Committee, which instead voted 5-2 to reject the proposal.
Bolin expressed his disappointment that the bill would not go to a vote because it was an attempt to, “elevate the concept of fair competition in sex-segregated sports to a higher level.”
While the Family Heritage Alliance Action leadership expressed disappointment that the bill didn’t proceed, both South Dakota High School Activities Association Executive Director Dan Swartos and the ACLU or South Dakota breathed a sigh of relief that transgender teens would still be allowed to compete for a team that matches their gender identity, provided they pass the state’s existing guidelines for eligibility of transgender athletes.
The South Dakota Senate committee’s rejection of the bill keeps South Dakota from following in the footsteps of Texas, where the teen Mack Beggs has famously been forced to compete in girls wrestling despite his desire and that of other girls and boys wrestlers to have him compete in boys wrestling.
That won’t happen in South Dakota, which Chris Mosier, the internationally competitive trans triathlete and transgender spokesperson was happy to celebrate with the LGBTQ blog Outsports:
“There are known physical, mental, social, and psychological benefits for any person participating in sports,” Mosier told Outsports in an earlier interview about SB49. “For young people, it’s an opportunity for them to connect with their peers, and learn critical leadership and communication skills, and work with diverse teammates toward a common goal.
“Sport can help trans youth connect to their peers and learn more about themselves. I certainly felt that way; when I didn’t know who I was or how I fit in, sports gave me a purpose and a sense of belonging, and the values and skills I learned on teams comprise the core of who I am today.”