Hate ain’t so easy: Anti-trans sports bills are dying in some unlikely places

While anti-trans legislation continues to pop up across America, bills are starting to fail.
While anti-trans legislation continues to pop up across America, bills are starting to fail.
Image: Getty Images

The hate stops here. Or at least it should.

We previously reported on the North Dakota House passage of a bill that would bar transgender people from participating in youth sports. That bill got through the North Dakota State Senate 27-20, but it was vetoed by Republican Governor Doug Burgum. He said the 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.”


Burgum also noted that the idea that trans athletes are somehow dominating youth sports, specifically girls’ sports, is not particularly relevant to the state. “To date, there has not been a single recorded incident of a transgender girl attempting to play on a North Dakota girls’ team.”

Over the past few months, a swath of anti-trans legislation aimed at children and young adults participating in sports has been brought up in statehouses across the country.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, there have been 117 anti-transgender bills introduced across in 2021 — 58 of which address locker room or youth sports bans. The sheer number of bills swirling around State Capitols has skyrocketed in the past year. Coincidence? Put your thinking cap on. The abundance of legislation is clearly part of a new culture war waged by the GOP.

Libby Skarin, a campaign director for the ACLU in South Dakota, North Dakota, and Wyoming expressed her enthusiasm for the Burgum veto: “House Bill 1298 was never about leveling the playing field for student-athletes,” she said. “It was obvious from the beginning that this discriminatory legislation was about creating solutions to problems that don’t exist and, in the process, harming some of the most vulnerable people in our state.”

And North Dakota wasn’t the only state where hateful legislation was nixed this week. On Tuesday, GOP Senate Leader Phil Berger announced he was not going to advance a bill that sought to limit medical care for transgender folx 21-and-under. And in Texas, the Houston Chronicle reported that yet another transgender sports bill was likely to die in committee.

Even though a recent poll from PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist found that Americans overwhelmingly oppose these anti-trans laws relating to medical care and youth sports, some governors seem eager to sign the bills without considering those actually affected. But if activists and state residents continue to speak out, perhaps more bigoted bills can stop at governers’ desks like in North Dakota or even before that as in North Carolina and Texas.