The Corner

Politics & Policy

North Dakota’s Governor Burgum Sells Out on Sex-Exclusive Sports

Gov. Doug Burgum (R., N.D.) speaks to delegates in Grand Forks, N.D., April 7, 2018. (Dan Koeck/Reuters)

On Wednesday, the Republican governor of North Dakota, Doug Burgum, vetoed a bill stating that “a public elementary or secondary school may not knowingly allow an individual of the opposite sex who is enrolled in a public elementary or secondary school to participate on a school-sponsored athletic team that is exclusively for females or exclusively for males.” The definition of sex for the bill’s purposes, the drafters wrote, is “based solely on an individual’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth.”

The bill received overwhelming support in the state’s GOP-controlled legislature (69–25 in the House and 27–20 in the Senate). But Burgum argued that the bill was unnecessary to begin with, claiming that the North Dakota High School Activities Association (NDHSAA) “already has regulations in place for participation in sex-separated interscholastic contests by transgender students.”

That is not true. NDHSAA regulations state that “transgender boys” (i.e., biological girls) “may compete in a contest for boys but is no longer eligible to compete in a contest for girls” and that “transgender girls” (i.e., biological boys) can play in boys’ teams “but may not compete in a contest for girls until completing one calendar year of documented testosterone-suppression treatment.”

This policy is unacceptably confusing and unjust as it undermines sex-based sports by legitimizing the false assumptions of gender-identity ideology; creates a double standard between the boys’ and girls’ teams; risks the safety of biological females (who declare transgender status) allowing them in boys-only teams and environments; and, worst of all, actively encourages hormonal interference for biologically male minors (who declare transgender status).

Similar to the governor of South Dakota, Kristi Noem, it would seem likely that Governor Burgum is either ignorant or indifferent to the issue at hand here. And similar to Noem, he deserves to be held accountable for such a disappointing capitulation and misuse of his veto powers.


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