North Dakota governor signs trans sports bans after vetoing them in past years

Portrait of Governor Doug Burgum
Portrait of Governor Doug Burgum Photo: Office of the Governor

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) has signed two trans sports bans into law. H.B. 1249 and H.B. 1489 collectively prohibit trans girls from participating in women’s sports in kindergarten through college.

Burgum vetoed similar legislation in 2021, and the legislature did not have enough votes to override it. This time, the legislature would have been able to override his veto had he decided not to sign the bills.

He said in a statement that state lawmakers are “resoundingly determined” to ban trans girls from women’s sports even though “there still has not been a single recorded incident of a transgender girl playing or entering the process to even ask to play on a North Dakota girls’ team.”

He added that other states with anti-trans sports bans have not endured the economic consequences he was worried about the last time the bill came across his desk.

“Concerns raised last session about such policies jeopardizing the ability to host regional and national collegiate tournaments have not materialized in the roughly 20 states that have passed similar legislation.”

State Sen. Ryan Braunberger (D) told the Associated Press that trans people in his state no longer feel safe there.

“I have talked to several of my family members that don’t want to leave North Dakota because it is their state, and it is their home. But they’re feeling like they have to now. They don’t feel like it’s safe for them.”

So far, 20 other states have enacted trans sports bans, though temporary injunctions are currently blocking them in Idaho, West Virginia, Indiana, and Utah.

In the first few months of 2023, over 20 anti-trans bills have become law across the country as Republican state lawmakers (and some federal lawmakers) work round the clock to target gender-affirming care, bathroom usage, drag shows, and the rights of trans students in schools.

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