North Dakota Gov. signs bill preventing trans-athletes from joining female sports teams

(Photo by Stephen Yang/Getty Images)

OAN Brooke Mallory
UPDATED 2:57 PM – Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Governor Doug Burgum signed two bills into law on Tuesday night that forbid transgender individuals from playing on female sports teams in grades K–12, as well as higher education.


With veto-proof majorities, lawmakers in the House and Senate officially passed the laws. Even if the governor would had vetoed or declined to sign the laws, it is likely that they would have still passed nonetheless.

Despite the 27,000 kids participating in high school athletics in North Dakota during the past two years, Burgum (R-N.D.) said that “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.”

Lawmakers have now “resoundingly determined” that additional limitations on girls’ sports beyond the ones already in place should be formalized in state law, he said.

“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,” said Burgum.

Transgender athletes are also subject to limitations in at least 19 additional states.

This month, the Biden administration submitted a rule to prohibit outright bans on transgender athletes, but it is still subject to a drawn-out approval process.

A similar law that would have prohibited transgender females from participating on girls’ sports teams in public schools was vetoed by Burgum in 2021. However, there were not enough votes in the legislature to overcome the veto that year. Lawmakers created new legislation this year to broaden and replicate that measure, including at the collegiate level.

Senator Janne Myrdal (R-N.D.) of Edinburg, North Dakota, argued in favor of the legislation and endorsed the idea that cis-gender (biological) female athletes who compete could lose out on scholarship possibilities if transgender athletes participated in their sports.

According to The National Library of Medicine, “The striking male postpubertal increase in circulating testosterone provides a major, ongoing, cumulative, and durable physical advantage in sporting contests by creating larger and stronger bones, greater muscle mass and strength, and higher circulating hemoglobin as well as possible psychological (behavioral) differences. In concert, these render women, on average, unable to compete effectively against men in power-based or endurance-based sports.”

“…These dichotomies largely account for the sex differences in muscle mass and strength and circulating hemoglobin levels that result in at least an 8% to 12% ergogenic advantage in men.”

Last Monday, Senator Ryan Braunberger (D-N.D.) spoke out in opposition against the proposals on the Senate floor. In an interview with The Associated Press, the Fargo-resident stated that this is a worrying time for his transgender friends and family.

“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,” Braunberger said on Tuesday.

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