Mar 3, 2022 - News

Gov. Reynolds signs Iowa bill banning trans girls from women's sports

Gov. Kim Reynolds
Gov. Kim Reynolds, surrounded by female athletes, signs House File 2416 into law on March 3, 2022. Photo by: Kelsey Kremer/The Register / USA TODAY NETWORK

Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill prohibiting trans girls from playing in K-12 and collegiate sports that align with their gender identity β€” adding Iowa to a growing list of conservative states focused on transgender athletes.

Why it matters: The bill takes effect immediately, meaning trans girls who were allowed to play with their school teams just yesterday β€” now are not.

State of play: Reynolds signed the bill inside the State Capitol's rotunda, in front of a group of student athletes who rallied on the conservative slogan, #SaveGirlsSports.

What they're saying: "Forcing females to compete against males is the opposite of inclusivity and it's completely unfair," Reynolds said, prior to the signing.

  • She highlighted Ainsley Erzen, a Carlisle track athlete who's become an outspoken conservative figure in Iowa's debate.

Conservatives have argued that biological differences make it unfair for cisgender women and girls to compete against trans athletes who were assigned male at birth.

There were no equity problems that arose when trans girls were freely allowed to play sports in Iowa, said Becky Smith, executive director of LGBTQ youth advocacy group Iowa Safe Schools, in a statement.

  • The bill was borne purely out of political motivation, Smith said.
  • "The passage of this bill will directly result in increased suicidality, disparate mental health outcomes, and further isolation of trans children," Smith said.

What's next: The bill will likely become entangled in legal complications.

  • States that have passed similar bans like Florida and West Virginia have faced lawsuits from national groups like the Human Rights Campaign and the ACLU.
  • The U.S. Justice Department challenged a ban in West Virginia, saying it violates Title IX and the 14th Amendment.
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