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North Dakota Governor Doug BurgumStephen Yang/Getty Images

BISMARCK (LifeSiteNews) – North Dakota Republican Doug Burgum has signed a pair of bills prohibiting biological males from participating in school athletic teams designated for females, following a veto of a different bill on school transgender policy.

Starting in August, House Bills 1249 and 1489 will prohibit male students from participating in expressly-female teams in K-12 and collegiate programs, respectively, and give any female athlete harmed by a violation of this rule grounds to sue for damages.

Last year, the North Dakota High School Activities Association’s (NDHSAA) executive board made an administrative rule change prohibiting “transgender girls” (i.e., boys) from participating in girls’ sports unless a school could provide medical evidence that the student had no physical competitive advantage. Along with elevating the standard to the status of state law, the bills do away with that exception.

“Thoughtful debate over policy in this area should involve the pursuit of two goals: to continue to ensure fairness in North Dakota girls’ sports and demonstrate compassion and understanding for all North Dakota youth,” he said, the Bismarck Tribune reports. “North Dakota continues to have a level playing field and fairness in girls’ sports. Over the past two years, with more than 27,000 students participating in North Dakota high school sports under current North Dakota High School Activities Association rules, there still has not been a single recorded incident of a transgender girl playing or entering the process to even ask to play on a North Dakota girls’ team. Nevertheless, the Legislature has now resoundingly determined that restrictions beyond the 2022 NDHSAA rules for girls’ sports should be codified in state law.”

Burgum’s approval of the two bills, which passed the legislature with enough votes to override a potential veto, indicates he is conceding to their overwhelming support and/or trying to walk a fine line on transgender issues. Earlier this month, he vetoed a bill that would have forbade teachers from referring to students by factually-inaccurate gender pronouns without parental consent.

Mandatory inclusion of gender-confused individuals in opposite-sex sports is billed as a matter of “sensitivity” and respect for perceived “gender identity.” But critics note that indulging “transgender” athletes in this way undermines the original rational basis for having sex-specific athletics in the first place, thereby depriving female athletes of recognition and professional or academic opportunities. Scientific research affirms that physiology gives males distinct athletic advantages that cannot be fully negated by hormone suppression.

In a 2019 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.”