Iowa governor Kim Reynolds on Thursday signed into law new legislation that bans transgender girls and women from competing in women’s sports at schools, colleges and universities in the state.
House File 2416 is expected to be challenged in court by opponents of the bill who say it discriminates against transgender girls and violates civil rights laws.
For her part, Reyonlds says the law is a “fairness issue,” arguing that transgender girls have athletes advantages.
"Great things happen when women have access to the fair and equal playing field they deserve," Reynolds said at the bill’s signing, according to the Des Moines Register. "But what would it say about a commitment to this principle if we let actual playing fields — the courts, fields, rinks, pools and tracks of youth and collegiate sports — be tilted in favor of biological males with inherent physical advantages?"
Iowa Safe Schools executive director Becky Smith was at the signing and held a transgender flag, which had flown over the Iowa Capitol for a few minutes in 2019 during the Transgender Day of Remembrance.
"It’s really just a reminder that transgender students matter, that they’re here, that they are not going anywhere," Smith said. "And despite the fact that their rights are being infringed upon by the passage of this bill we stand with them, we have not forgotten them and the fight continues for LGBTQ youth across the state."
Democrat senate minority leader Zach Wahls called passage of the bill “appaling.”
"She is showing once again that she’s more interested in scoring political points than caring about the impact of legislation on some of the most marginalized kids in our society," he said in a statement.
Phil Roeder, spokesman for Des Moines Public School, said that the district will have to follow state law but that he is concerned about potential conflicts with federal law pertaining to TItle IX.
The law requires that all school-sponsored athletic events be designated as men’s, women’s or coeducational. Athletes competing in women’s sports will need to have female listed as the sex on their birth certificate.