“It’s not possible to know a person’s gender identity at birth, and there is no consensus criteria for assigning sex at birth,” CNN reported this week.
CNN published an article written by breaking “news” reporter Devan Cole titled “South Dakota’s governor issues executive orders banning transgender athletes from women’s sports” that discusses Kristi Noem’s most recent legislation.
“Though the two executive orders signed by Noem do not explicitly mention transgender athletes, they reference the supposed harms of the participation of ‘males’ in women’s athletics,” Cole wrote. He described the orders as “an echo of the transphobic claim, cited in other similar legislative initiatives, that transgender women are not women.”
The orders “also reference ‘biological sex,’ a disputed term that refers to the sex as listed on students’ original birth certificates,” Cole added.
Noem signed the executive orders in an effort to prohibit male competition in women’s sports in K-12 schools and institutions of higher education. She received backlash earlier this month when she vetoed legislation to prohibit male competition in women’s sports permanently.
Noem passed off on a “style and form” veto to send the bill back to the Republican-controlled statehouse for changes before she would sign it into law. But lawmakers overwhelmingly rejected the governor’s demanded changes, which gut the bill.
Noem’s executive orders, however, don’t hold the same legal power as the bill did. Scholars at the Alliance Defending Freedom, a First Amendment legal non-profit which has led the fight on protecting the integrity of women’s sports, said Noem’s orders are just “a suggestion.”
University of South Dakota Political Science Professor Michael Card is also doubtful of the governor’s orders. They are enforced through the state secretary of education, possessing the same authority as statehouse legislation.
“It’s not clear that the Secretary of Education can do much in that respect,” Card told KELO-TV, a local South Dakota outlet. “Except, on a year by year basis, the school board can make that delegation, but it’s not clear the Secretary of Education can do that, again I’m not an attorney but that’s what the statute seems to read.”