Sponsors of North Dakota’s transgender athletes bill have ties to anti-LGBT organizations

When state Sen. Janne Myrdal testified before the North Dakota House Human Services Committee in support of HB 1298, she said she believes the bill has little to do with transgender people. “For me, it is 100% a Title IX issue,” said Myrdal, the bill’s co-sponsor. HB 1298 – which would bar trans athletes from competing on teams that align to the gender with which they identify (and not with their birth gender) – has come with no little controversy during the 2021 session of the North Dakota Legislature, prompting cries of protest from school officials, physicians and LGBT advocate groups throughout North Dakota. Opponents say the bill targets marginalized teens who already are vulnerable to discrimination. Meanwhile, lawmakers who back the measure say the bill would preserve women’s rights under Title IX, which protects against discrimination based on sex. Myrdal and lead sponsor Rep. Ben Koppelman both have ties to anti-LGBT groups. Koppelman, R-West Fargo, is listed as a policymaker signatory for Promise to America’s Children, a national coalition led by several prominent anti-trans organizations, including the Alliance to Defend Freedom, which has been identified as an extremist anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Prior to becoming a state senator, Myrdal, R-Edinburg, was the director of the North Dakota chapter of Concerned Women for America, a Washington, D.C.-based Christian women’s organization that in the past has lobbied against anti-discrimination policies and repeated the widely debunked claim that offering protections to transgender people enables pedophiles and predators.