MANHATTAN — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem shared a personal and political account of how South Dakota served as a laboratory for conservative government and hit back at detractors frustrated with the Republican’s refusal to sign a bill limiting participation in women’s and girls’ sports to people declared female at birth.
The South Dakota Legislature’s transgender sports bill was scuttled under Noem’s demands for an exemption of college athletics, the refusal of GOP legislators to narrow the ban to K-12 students and the persistent hostility to any type of ban among Democrats, dozens of corporations and the NCAA.
Noem, who spoke Saturday night at the Kansas Republican Party’s convention as a potential candidate for president in 2024, gained national prominence for her hands-off approach to the COVID-19 pandemic. She endured withering criticism as the virus claimed more than 500,000 Americans, but held firm to a belief she didn’t have the authority or desire to let her decisions infringe on rights of South Dakota residents.