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North Dakota Governor Vetoes Bill to Ban Transgender Athletes from School Sports

Jen Juneau
·2-min read

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images Athletes competing

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum has vetoed a bill that proposed prohibiting transgender athletes from participating in K-12 school sports teams.

The decision came on Wednesday, when Burgum shot down the proposed legislation, House Bill 1298, which had passed 27-20 in the state Senate and 69-25 in the House.

According to The Bismarck Tribune, the Concerned Women for America of North Dakota had implored the governor to sign the bill into law, claiming that doing so would "protect biological girls who train and work hard to excel in their chosen sport."

In a statement obtained by The Hill and The Bismarck Tribune, the governor claimed his state already "has fairness in girls' and boys' sports in large part because of the caring and thoughtful leadership of the North Dakota High School Activities Association (NDHSAA) Board and its members."

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Stephen Yang/Getty Images North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum

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The NDHSAA's current rules, dated November 2015, state that "any transgender student who is not taking hormone treatment related to gender transition may participate in a sex-separated interscholastic contest in accordance with the sex assigned to him or her at birth."

"A trans male (female to male) student who has undergone treatment with testosterone for gender transition may compete in a contest for boys but is no longer eligible to compete in a contest for girls," the rules read.

"A trans female (male to female) student being treated with testosterone suppression medication for gender transition may continue to compete in a contest for boys but may not compete in a contest for girls until completing one calendar year of documented testosterone-suppression treatment," the rules conclude.

Getty Female athletes playing soccer

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"We have every confidence they will continue to ensure a level playing field for the more than 27,000 students who participate in North Dakota high school sports," Burgum said in his statement, according to The Hill.

"To date, there has not been a single recorded incident of a transgender girl attempting to play on a North Dakota girls' team. Further, the NDHSAA already has regulations in place for participation in sex-separated interscholastic contests by transgender students," he added.

The Bismarck Tribune reports that the state Senate and House could ultimately override the governor's decision with a two-thirds majority vote.

News of Burgum's veto comes amid a slew of bills being proposed around the country seeking to ban transgender athletes from school teams that align with their gender identity, including in states like Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee.