Iowa passed a law Thursday banning transgender women from participating in women’s sports at the high school and college levels.
Under the new law signed by Governor Kim Reynolds, sporting events will have required designations of male, female or coed, and only those whose birth certificates say they are female will be allowed to play in the female events.
This makes Iowa the 11th state to pass legislation of this nature, with the other states also led by Republicans, according to the Associated Press. The bill passed the Iowa Senate on Wednesday along party lines, KCRG-TV reported. Conservatives argue measures like these protect the freedom of cisgender women to have a fair competition, while opponents say they further alienate an already vulnerable group.
In the KCRG report, Reynolds called the new law 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,” Reynolds said. “It’s simply a reality of human biology. Forcing females to compete against males is the opposite of inclusivity, and it’s absolutely unfair.”
Also, the bill says a birth certificate can only be relied upon if it was issued around the time of the student’s birth, as Iowa allows people to change the gender on the certificate in some situations, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.
In a statement by the Human Rights Campaign released the same day the bill was signed into law, JoDee Winterhof, the organization’s senior vice president of policy and political affairs, called the move a “shameful moment in Iowa’s history,” as Iowa has become the first state with anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people to also pass such a measure banning transgender student-athletes. The statement said the new law makes Iowa the first state to “reverse course” after introducing its earlier protections.
“With the stroke of her pen, and without even bothering to meet with transgender kids or their parents, Governor Reynolds has reversed years of progress and moved our state backwards,” Winterhof said. “After years of moving closer towards equality of opportunity, Iowa is now the first in the country to make life harder for LGBTQ+ people who work, live, and go to school here.”
According to Freedom for All Americans, dozens of state legislatures will look at anti-transgender bills in the 2022 legislative session. Iowa is tied with Tennessee for the most bills on the topic it will consider, with 14 bills in each state. One of the Iowa bills advocates for removing gender identity as a protected class under the state’s civil rights act. This bill is currently still in committee.