In seven cities across South Dakota, people gathered Saturday morning to make a statement and to protest a bill against trans lives and their future in sports.
All events had mandatory mask requirements and were held in Pierre, Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Brookings, Watertown, Eagle Butte and Vermillion.
The protests were led by The Transformation Project. In Vermillion, April Matson and Dylan Daniels led the event with speeches based on their own experiences and lives and led a march around the block of main street.
This protest was in response to South Dakota House Bill 1217 being passed through the senate. The bill plans to ban trans women from participating in women’s sports because of the belief that trans women will have an unfair advantage over other teams players.
“The bill is a huge step back when we’ve been working to get schools safe for all students. How are trans people being representated when the legislators take these issues out of our hands and puts them in the hands of cisgender representatives,” Matson said during their speech.
H.B. 1217 would affect all public schools, even public colleges. The bill would require women to provide documentation verifying their biological sex.
“They’re really going for these vulnerable spots. It’s already such a vulnerable population and the few resources like these youth do have, legislators are targeting these places to try to make it so they don’t have any safe spaces to go,” Dylan Daniels said.
Mark Daniels discussed how every time a bill that affects the trans community is presented, many young adults are sent to mental health facilities due to the stress. About 50% of trans youth attempt suicide, according to a survey by The Trevor Project.
Dylan Daniels and Matson suggest one way for people to help trans people feel more validated and to advocate for their rights is to normalize saying their pronouns.
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“We know when these things are happening to us that we have to fight against them but it’s time for us to bring legislation forward to protect our trans youth,” Dylan Daniels said in his speech.
Senate Bill 166 planned to extend protections for hate crimes against the LGBTQ and Two-Spirit people. This would have been the first bill to identify Two-Spirit people but it did not pass the senate.
Vermillion voters approved of the home rule charter in November so that Vermillion could have more control over local matters. The Transformation hopes to see Vermillion make schools a safer place for trans youth and to see overall more protections for LGBTQ, Two-Spirit, and trans youth.
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No further protests are planned currently. To stay updated and informed you can go to The Transformation Project for South Dakota website.
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“Trans people and Two-Spirit people are in South Dakota and we are not going anywhere,” Dylan Daniels said.