Dear Governor Noem,

We, the undersigned, strongly urge you to support legislation that protects women’s sports from kindergarten through college and that provides women and girls with a legal remedy if that right is violated.

As you know, Arkansas Governor recently signed AR SB 354, the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act. In doing so, he stated:

“Today, I have signed into law SB354 called the ‘Fairness in Women’s Sports Act’. I have studied the law and heard from hundreds of constituents on this issue. I signed the law as a fan of women’s sports from basketball to soccer and including many others in which women compete successfully. This law simply says that female athletes should not have to compete in a sport against a student of the male sex when the sport is designed for women’s competition. As I have stated previously, I agree with the intention of this law. This will help promote and maintain fairness in women’s sporting events.”

Governor Hutchinson’s signature on the Arkansas bill demonstrates bravery and confirms that lawmakers can confidently stand up for female athletes.

Fairness for female athletes should not be a political or partisan issue. The undersigned have diverse views on many topics but stand united on this fact: protecting the integrity of women’s sports is pro-woman, pro-fairness, and consistent with the purpose and promise of Title IX. Indeed, nationally, the majority of voters of all parties (nearly 67 percent) state the men or boys who identify as transgender should not be permitted to compete in women and girls’ athletics.[1]

We strongly believe that everyone should have the opportunity to compete, but true athletic parity for women demands that women’s sports be protected for biological females. Protecting the integrity of women’s sports has, for decades, played an integral role in remedying past discrimination against women and empowering them to achieve their full athletic potential.

Studies attest to the reality that comparably fit and trained male athletes have innate physiological advantages over females.[2] Team USA sprinter Allyson Felix holds the most World Championship medals in history. Yet in 2018 alone, 275 high school boys ran faster times in the 400-meter on 783 occasions.[3] Even the world’s best female Olympic athletes would lose to literally thousands of male athletes—including those who would be considered second tier in the men’s category—on any given day.[4] Testosterone suppression does not undo these physiological advantages.[5] We do not want to watch our athletic achievements be erased from the history books by individuals with all the inherent athletic advantages that come from a male body.

These concerns are not theoretical. Countless female athletes, parents, coaches, and fans have already been negatively affected by current policies that allow boys and men to participate in female athletics.[6] It is time for this to stop.

Signing this bill presents an opportunity for you to exercise leadership on behalf of female athletes in South Dakota and throughout the country. You will be setting a precedent for your colleagues in other states to follow and joining with our leaders in the U.S. Congress who have voiced similar support for female athletes across the United States.[7] 

Women and girls deserve fair competition, in South Dakota and across the country. Please join your colleagues in Idaho, Mississippi, and Arkansas and set a precedent for other governors by signing HB 1217.


FOOTNOTES:
[1] Women’s Liberation Front, NATIONAL POLL REVEALS MAJORITY OF VOTERS SUPPORT PROTECTING SINGLE-SEX SPACES, https://www.womensliberationfront.org/news/national-poll-support-for-womens-spaces.  
[2] Lundberg et al., Muscle strength, size and composition following 12 months of gender-affirming treatment in transgender individuals: retained advantage for transwomen, available at https://www.biorxiv.org/content/biorxiv/early/2019/09/26/782557.full.pdf.
[3] Doriane Lambelet Coleman, Martina Navratilova, et al. Pass the Equality Act, But Don’t Abandon Title IX, Washington Post (Apr. 29, 2019) https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/pass-the-equality-act-but-dont-abandon-title-ix/2019/04/29/2dae7e58-65ed-11e9-a1b6-b29b90efa879_story.html.
[4] Doriane Lambelet Coleman Oral Testimony on H.R. 5 before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary April 2, 2019, available at https://docs.house.gov/meetings/JU/JU00/20190402/109200/HHRG-116-JU00-Wstate-LambeletColemanP-20190402.pdf.
[5] See, e.g. Lundberg et al., Muscle strength, size and composition following 12 months of gender-affirming treatment in transgender individuals: retained advantage for transwomen, available at https://www.biorxiv.org/content/biorxiv/early/2019/09/26/782557.full.pdf.
[6] Independent Women’s Forum, “Female Athlete Stories,” https://www.iwf.org/female-athlete-stories/.
[7] See., e.g., “Senator Lee Leads Legislation to Protect Women’s Sports,” https://www.lee.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2021/2/sen-lee-leads-legislation-to-protect-women-s-sports.