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Iowa Governor Signs Bills Banning Transgender Girls and Women from Female Sports

Iowa joins a handful of other states that restrict transgender athletes from participation in sports based on their gender identity

On Thursday, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a bill banning transgender girls and women from playing on school-affiliated female sports teams. 

The new law goes into effect immediately. 

In a statement Thursday, Reynolds said:

“This is a victory for girls’ sports in Iowa. 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.”

According to the new law, athletic events hosted and organized by public and private schools, community colleges, and NCAA or NAIA-affiliated colleges and universities must be defined as either female, male or coeducational. It states that participation is “based on the sex at birth.” 

Athletes with “official birth certificates” that list them as female will be able to compete on school teams, sports, or athletic events designated for female participants. 

Reynolds said Iowa has always advanced women’s rights and the new law promotes fairness for female residents of the state. 

“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 the signing ceremony Thursday. 

The LGTBQ+ advocacy group, Human Rights Campaign (HRC), said that Iowa is betraying and damaging its 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,” Said HRC senior vice president JoDee Winterhof in a statement Thursday.

CEO of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), Sarah Kate Ellis, 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 most recent state to pass legislation affecting transgender students in sports. Florida, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, and South Dakota have also banned transgender athletes from participating in sports that align with their gender identity. 

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