PJI Goes to the Mat For Female Athletes in South Dakota

PIERRE, South Dakota – States nationwide are wrestling with how to preserve fairness and safety in women’s sports in the face of challenges from males who wish to compete as females. In three of those states, the Pacific Justice Institute-Center for Public Policy (“CPP”) is going to the mat on female athletes’ behalf.

Ray Hacke, one of Pacific Justice Institute-CPP’s Pacific Northwest-based staff attorneys, will testify before the South Dakota Senate’s State Affairs Committee on Wednesday, March 3, arguing in favor of HB 1217, which would require that sports teams be designated male, female, or co-ed. The bill – which South Dakota’s House of Representatives passed by a 50-17 vote – would limit participation in female sports to participants whose biological sex was designated female at birth.

Hacke testified in favor of a similar bill in Idaho – which ultimately passed – in 2020.  He is also scheduled to testify on a women’s sports bill via videoconference before Missouri’s legislature on Monday, March 1, and has agreed to testify on another such bill in Montana later in March.

Hacke is the author of an article titled Girls Will Be Boys, and Boys Will Be Girls”: The Emergence of the Transgender Athlete and a Defensive Game Plan For High Schools That Want to Keep Their Playing Fields Level – For Athletes of Both Genders. Published in multiple legal journals, Hacke’s article explains how the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause and Title IX, the federal law aimed at providing equal educational opportunities for women and girls, all but mandate that schools maintain separate teams for boys and girls to ensure that girls get a full and fair opportunity to compete.

“Let’s be clear: Transgender females – boys who self-identify as girls – are not being denied the opportunity to compete, as they claim,” Hacke said. “What they’re demanding is the opportunity to compete on their terms, even though it would adversely affect actual women and girls.

“A heavyweight wrestler who can’t accept how heavy he is doesn’t get to move down several classifications because he self-identifies as being 100 pounds lighter. The same concept applies here: Transgender athletes want states to ignore biological realities to placate their feelings at the expense of fairness and safety in women’s sports. That should not be the case.”

PJI pledges to continue testifying on this issue to help states reach the right decision.

“Men have certain physical advantages over women – that’s a basic, undeniable biological fact,” PJI President Brad Dacus said. “Science has proven that time and again that they run faster, jump higher, throw farther, and hit harder. While transgender individuals deserve compassion for their internal struggles, it is fair and just for states to draw a line protecting the right of women and girls to compete exclusively against other females.”