May 5, 2021 - Politics

Iowa governor continues last-minute push to ban trans athletes

Screenshot via Iowa PBS

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds is joining a growing legion of Republican lawmakers who support banning transgender girls from playing in women's sports.

The state of play: There's typically legislation targeting transgender people every year by a small group of conservative legislators in the state, but this is the first time Reynolds has overtly pushed for it.

Driving the news: During a press conference yesterday, Reynolds said she told Republican leaders she wants to see a bill addressing the issue on her desk, even though session has almost ended.

  • She said she believes it's a "fairness" issue, suggesting cisgender girls will be at a disadvantage when it comes to qualifying for events and scholarships.
  • "We either have girl sports or we don't," Reynolds added.
  • She first signaled her position during a Fox News town hall last week.

The big picture: Nearly 90 bills targeting trans kids have been introduced by predominately Republican state legislatures this year, per ACLU data.

  • Nine other bills across five states, mostly focused on health care, have failed.
  • Worth noting: Like other lawmakers, Reynolds didn't cite a specific complaint or instance of when a trans student held an unfair advantage.

The other side: Reynolds' move is part of a nationwide effort to rally up a conservative base that may feel fearful or be uneducated about the trans community, said Becky Ritland, interim executive director of Iowa Safe Schools.

  • "Iowa Nice does not apply to the trans community," Ritland said. "That really just exacerbates students not feeling safe at school."

What's next: Expect to see this issue pop up as an amendment on top of a another bill — which recently happened in Florida.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Des Moines.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Des Moines stories

No stories could be found

Des Moinespostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Des Moines.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more