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Kristi NoemNBC News / YouTube

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PIERRE, South Dakota, March 22, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – The movement to protect women’s athletics from transgender encroachment in South Dakota has come to a sudden halt thanks to Republican Gov. Kristi Noem’s last-minute abandonment of legislation she previously claimed she would be “excited” to sign.

Passed by both chambers of the state legislature, HB 1217 affirms that a “team or sport designated as being female is available only to participants who are female, based on their biological sex.” On March 8, Noem declared she was “excited to sign this bill very soon,” hailing the defense of women’s sports as a worthy cause to highlight on International Women’s Day.

Before she did so, however, a chorus including left-wing activists and the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce began pressuring her to veto the bill. On March 19, Noem announced that she was sending the bill back to the legislature, detailing several sudden reservations about its “vague and overly broad language” and suggesting various “style and form” changes.

Among Noem’s objections are an “unworkable administrative burden on schools, who under its terms must collect verification forms from every student-athlete, every year, as to age, biological sex, and use of performance-enhancing drugs”; and fear that participation at the colleagiate level “means compliance with the national governing bodies that oversee collegiate athletics.”

The reversal is not sitting well with many conservatives, some of whom have floated Noem as a potential contender for the GOP presidential ticket in 2024.

Jon Schweppe of the American Principles Project (APP) explained that Noem’s desired changes would effectively gut HB 1217, in addition to her demand that it not apply at all to the college level.

First, identifying biological sex by “birth certificate or affidavit provided upon initial enrollment” would enable biological males to get around the ban, because state law lets anyone make changes to their vital records simply by presenting an “affidavit of correction.” Second and third, removing the requirement that student-athletes attest to their sex in writing would make it effectively unenforceable, as would removing the “cause of action to women who were unfairly deprived of athletic opportunities due to being displaced by a biological male.”

“We are shocked that a governor who claims to be a firebrand conservative with a rising national profile would cave to ‘woke’ corporate ideology,” said Alliance Defending Freedom general counsel Kristen Waggoner. “The governor tried to explain her betrayal with claims that her hands were tied by NCAA policy. But there is no NCAA policy that requires schools to allow males to compete on women’s teams as Gov. Noem suggests. The governor also vetoed the part of the bill that gives girls any legal recourse against unfair policies that arise. What’s left is mere lip service for women and girls forced to compete against biological males.”

On Monday, Noem tried to mitigate the damage by holding a press conference in which she announced she would be spearheading a multi-state “Defend Title IX” coalition – in effect a petition urging the federal government to “enforce Title IX in a way that protects fairness for women’s sports, rather than misusing it in a way that undermines fairness,” and the NCAA to “not take any adverse action against any state or school that acts to protect fairness for women.” The initiative has no force of law and is unlikely to impress most of the people she has disappointed.

LGBT activists claim it’s “discriminatory” to reserve female competitive sports for actual females, but science confirms that “trans women” (i.e., biological men) retain distinct physical advantages through which they can deprive actual female athletes of recognition and scholarship opportunities intended to advance girls.

In a paper published by the Journal of Medical Ethics, New Zealand researchers found that “healthy young men (do) not lose significant muscle mass (or power) when their circulating testosterone levels were reduced to (below International Olympic Committee guidelines) for 20 weeks,” and “indirect effects of testosterone” on factors such as bone structure, lung volume, and heart size “will not be altered by hormone therapy”; therefore, “the advantage to transwomen (biological men) afforded by the (International Olympic Committee) guidelines is an intolerable unfairness.”