On Tuesday evening, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) signed two bills into law that ban transgender athletes from participating in female sports teams in K-12 and college, effectively implementing a ban on transgender girls and women joining such teams.
The laws were passed by lawmakers in the House and Senate with veto-proof majorities, meaning that they would have likely been enacted even if the governor had vetoed or declined to sign them.
Gov. Burgum pointed out that in the past two years, with 27,000 students participating in high school athletics in North Dakota, there has not been a single recorded incident of a transgender girl attempting to play on a girls’ team or even inquiring about the process.
Burgum stated that lawmakers have decided overwhelmingly that there is a need to establish new restrictions on girls’ sports in the state beyond the ones that already exist. He said, “Concerns raised last session about such policies jeopardizing the ability to host regional and national collegiate tournaments have not materialized in the roughly 20 states that have passed similar legislation.”
At least 19 other states have implemented restrictions on transgender athletes prompting the Biden administration to propose a rule that would prevent outright bans on transgender athletes, but the rule still needs to go through a lengthy approval process.
Last year, Burgum vetoed a similar bill that aimed to prohibit transgender females from participating in girls’ sports teams in public schools, but there were not enough votes in the legislature to override the veto. This year, lawmakers passed new legislation to expand and replicate the bill, including at the college level.
State Sen. Janne Myrdal (R-ND) supported the legislation and expressed concerns that allowing transgender athletes to compete in girls’ sports could potentially result in biological female athletes losing scholarship opportunities.
The National Library of Medicine has reported, “The striking male postpubertal increase in circulating testosterone provides a major, ongoing, cumulative, and durable physical advantage in sporting contests by creating larger and stronger bones, greater muscle mass and strength, and higher circulating hemoglobin as well as possible psychological (behavioral) differences. In concert, these render women, on average, unable to compete effectively against men in power-based or endurance-based sports.”
State Sen. Ryan Braunberger (D-ND) expressed his opposition to the proposed laws in a speech on the Senate floor last Monday. In an interview with The Associated Press, Braunberger expressed concern for his transgender friends and family, describing it as a troubling time for them.
Senator Ryan Braunberger, a Democrat from Fargo, said that while he was “disappointed and angry” that Mr. Burgum had signed the transgender athlete bills, he was “still hopeful” the governor would veto the bill restricting gender-affirming care.https://t.co/v7C35C5Ubc
— Senator Ryan Braunberger (@rb4senate) April 13, 2023