South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem is set to introduce new legislation that aims to limit the participation of transgender athletes in female sports as the debate over the hot-button issue heats up.
A draft of the bill titled 'An Act to protect fairness in women's sports' was shared by Noem's office Tuesday afternoon.
The drafted legislation is planned to be introduced as fury mounts over University of Pennsylvania transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, who broke records during a collegiate swim meet this month while competing on the women's team.
The bill would restrict students in collegiate and K-12 sports from joining sports teams that align with their 'biological sex at birth,' which is defined as 'the sex listed on the athlete's official birth certificate,' according to a draft of the bill.
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem announced on Tuesday that she plans to introduce 'An Act to protect fairness in women's sports' which would restrict students in collegiate and K-12 sports to join sports teams which align with their 'biological sex at birth'
The Republican governor faced harsh criticism from conservatives earlier this year when she vetoed a bill which would have made transgender women and girl's participation in school sports illegal. Noem feared the bill would not withstand the legal challenges she was expecting (Pictured: Gov. Kristi Noem, right, questioned by Tucker Carlson, left, after she vetoed HB1217)
'Only female athletes, based on their biological sex, may participate in any team, sport, or athletic event designated as being for females, women, or girls,' the bill reads.
'This is about fairness,' Noem said in a statement. 'Every young woman deserves an equal playing field where she can achieve success, but common sense tells us that males have an unfair physical advantage over females in athletic competition. It is for those reasons that only girls should be competing in girls' sports.'
'Women have fought long and hard for equal athletic opportunities, and South Dakota will defend them, but we have to do it in a smart way,' she said.
Transgender UPenn swimmer Lia Thomas became the center of the national debate on transgender athletes
Noem's bill comes after the House failed to override the governor's veto of House Bill 1217, which would have made trans women and girls' participation in school sports illegal.
The Republican governor was hit with harsh criticism earlier this year when she vetoed the bill, explaining that she feared the bill would not withstand legal challenges and announcing she had plans for a more comprehensive bill.
'This legislation does not have the problematic provisions that were included in last year's House Bill 1217,' Noem said.
'Those flawed provisions would have led to litigation for our state, as well as for the families of young South Dakota athletes – male and female alike.'
In an attempt to strengthen the bill against litigation, Noem's draft proposal excludes the HB1217 requirement that athletes provide a written statement verifying they haven't taken any performance-enhancing drugs. It also cut an 'onerous paperwork requirement' for parents to report on their child's gender.
'Given HB 1217's problematic provisions, there was a higher risk of the entire bill being enjoined if South Dakota were to be sued by the NCAA. If that had happened, no girls in South Dakota would have been protected (at K-12 or collegiate level),' Noem's spokesman Ian Fury said in a statement to Fox News.
'Now that other states have linked arms, as Governor Noem urged at the time, she is excited to protect girls' sports at both the K-12 and collegiate level, just as she's done with her executive orders.'
After Noem vetoed HB1217 earlier this year, she signed two executive orders aimed at preventing transgender girls from taking part in school and college sports in the state.
The executive orders cited Title IX which was established to create opportunities and benefits for women in sports that equal those of men. It also points to the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which provides for equal protection under the law for all citizens.
The executive orders stated that current policies, such as the NCAA regulations for transgender athletes, 'threaten to diminish opportunities for women.'
The NCAA regulations have increasingly come under fire after Thomas's success in the pool.
The Ivy League athlete competed on the UPenn men's swim team for three years before transitioning and switching to the women's team this season.
Thomas praised the fairness of the IOC guidelines and NCAA regulations which allowed her to move to the women's