Thomas Gallatin / January 9, 2023

Noem’s Troubling Transgender Record

A “follow the money” dive reveals the governor’s shaky record on the “transgender” agenda.

In 2020, Republican South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem rose to prominence among conservatives thanks to her admirable handling of the COVID pandemic. Her stalwart leadership made South Dakota one of the few states that never shut down; it remained open despite an avalanche of criticism leveled against her from Democrats and much of the mainstream media (but we repeat ourselves). This leadership won her accolades from conservatives, who praised her commitment to upholding and protecting her constituents’ constitutional rights and freedoms. Noem was a rising star within Republican circles with rumors of a possible presidential run in her future.

But excitement among conservatives over Noem took a significant hit when, in the spring of 2021, she vetoed legislation that banned biological males from competing in girls sports. In deep-red South Dakota, signing a bill into law that protected female sports in grades K-12 and college should have been a no-brainer, but Noem suddenly decided to veto legislation that she had previously supported.

Why? Noem’s explanation about concerns over the bill’s ability to withstand legal challenges was dubious for its vagueness. Further complicating matters was her about-face over the legislation after having met with state business leaders.

Likely due to the national political blowback for her appearing to have capitulated to the radical transgender lobby, Noem pushed for and eventually signed into law a nearly identical piece of legislation months later. However, questions as to why Noem, who had so staunchly stood up against the COVID radicals, seemingly so easily caved on the transgender issue invited deeper digging.

Thanks to National Review’s Nate Hochman, that digging has been done, and what he has exposed should have conservatives second-guessing Noem. Like all good political investigators, Hochman started by following the money, and it turns out that despite South Dakota being a deep-red state, its number one employer is anything but conservative.

Sanford Medical is the Mount Rushmore State’s leading employer and happens to be a company that is heavily invested in providing “gender affirming” medications such as puberty blockers. But Sanford not only provides medications, it also actively embraces the transgender agenda, as it is co-hosting the third annual Midwest Gender Identity Summit in Sioux Falls this month, along with a transgender activist organization called the Transformation Project. Why South Dakota? As The Washington Post observed three years ago: “Cherry-red South Dakota [is] the unlikely epicenter of a transgender uprising on the American Great Plains.”

This “transgender uprising” is being fed by the likes of Sanford, which is also why, despite the fact that Republicans have long controlled both chambers of the state house and the governorship, lawmakers have repeatedly failed to pass legislation to counter the spread of this culturally destructive contagion. Legislation such as bans on minor transitioning treatments, or protections for a medical professional’s right of conscience.

“Sanford influences public policy in ways most people can’t imagine and that certainly don’t align with the values of ordinary South Dakotans,” says Republican state lawmaker Jon Hansen. “[Sanford] promotes, performs, and profits off of chemically castrating minor children — a practice that most South Dakotans find disgusting and contemptible — they need an army of lobbyists to ‘persuade’ legislators otherwise.”

Sanford has this power to bend the legislature to its will thanks to a number of state lawmakers who are connected to the company. Several of these Sanford-connected individuals appear to have Noem’s ear as well.

So, how bad is it? Well, Hochman reports: “In 2022, Noem herself backed primary challenges to a number of ‘far-right members of the party’ named on a hit list circulated by [Lee] Schoenbeck, [the president pro tempore of the state senate]. Noem even openly campaigned with a Schoenbeck- and SDAHO-backed primary challenger to Fred Deutsch, a conservative incumbent in the state house who had butted heads with the governor over her missteps on transgender issues.”

Furthermore, Hochman noted that following his reporting on Noem’s worrisome record and connections to individuals lobbying for Sanford, the governor’s spokesman, Ian Fury, accused him of “carrying water” for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, while also deflecting with a ridiculous claim that DeSantis is weak on abortion.

Of course, all that response did was expose the fact that Noem does indeed have her eyes on a run for the White House.

While there may be much to admire in Noem, her apparent elevating of economic interests over that of the biggest socially destructive issue of our day is troubling. Can she be trusted to not only stand against the Rainbow Mafia but to take the fight to these culturally corrupting activists?

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