Iowa governor signs bill banning trans girls from female sports teams

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Iowa governor signs bill banning trans girls from female sports teams
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Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a bill into law Thursday that bans transgender girls and women from playing on school-affiliated female sports teams. The legislation goes into effect immediately.

"This is a victory for girls' sports in Iowa," Reynolds said Thursday in a statement. "No amount of talent, training or effort can make up for the natural physical advantages males have over females. It's simply a reality of human biology. Forcing females to compete against males is the opposite of inclusivity and it's absolutely unfair."

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed HF2416 into law Thursday. / Credit: Governor Kim Reynolds
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed HF2416 into law Thursday. / Credit: Governor Kim Reynolds

According to the new law, athletic events sponsored by public and private schools, community colleges and NCAA and NAIA-affiliated colleges and universities must be designated as either female, male or coeducational, "based on the sex at birth of the participating students." And only athletes with "official birth certificates" that list them as female will be allowed to compete on school teams, sports or athletic events that are designated for women or girls.

Reynolds said Iowa has a history of "advancing women's equality," and maintained that the new law promotes fairness.

"As a woman, a mother of three daughters, and now a grandmother of three young girls, it worries me that this bill is needed at all," Reynolds said at a bill signing ceremony Thursday. "It's hard to imagine how anyone who cares about the rights of women and girls could support anything less."

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed HF2416 into law Thursday. / Credit: Governor Kim Reynolds
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed HF2416 into law Thursday. / Credit: Governor Kim Reynolds

But the LGTBQ+ advocacy organization, Human Rights Campaign, said Iowa is betraying and undermining its historic non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people.

"Like anti-equality politicians across the country, Governor Reynolds is attacking some of the most vulnerable members of society in order to gin up her support with the extreme factions of her base during an election year," Human Rights Campaign senior vice president JoDee Winterhof said in a statement Thursday. "It's outrageous."

Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, also condemned the law.

"As a parent, my heart goes out to all the young people in Iowa who were just cruelly kicked out of school sports by the unjustified law," she tweeted on Thursday.

Iowa is the latest state to enact legislation involving transgender students in sports. South Dakota, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi and Florida have also barred transgender athletes from playing on sports teams that align with their gender.

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