Iowa becomes 11th US state to sign hateful anti-trans sports ban into law

Iowa governor Kim Reynolds speaks on stage

Iowa has become the 11th American state to sign a cruel and pointless ban on trans girls and women from competing in sports at state schools, colleges and universities.

In the latest example of the at least 160 anti-LGBT+ proposals being rammed into statehouse dockets, governor Kim Reynolds signed a bill banning trans athletes Thursday (3 March).

Senators voted 31-17 sharply along party lines for House File 2416 on Wednesday, only nine days after the Iowa House approved the hawkish legislation supported only by Republicans and certain to draw legal challenges.

Similar laws passed in Florida and West Virginia have fielded passionate lawsuits from national human rights groups such as the Human Rights Campaign and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Reynolds signed the proposal Thursday, going into effect immediately, in a move that the HRC said unravelled the state’s reputation as a former front-runner in LGBT+ rights.

The law will require school-sponsored athletic events to be separated into men’s, women’s and co-educational sports. But athletes competing in women’s sports from primary school up to university will have to have their sex listed as “female” on their birth certificates.

No such requirement exists for men’s sports, however. And schools found to violate the law could be sued by students who feel they have been harmed.

“This is a shameful moment in Iowa’s history,” the HRC’s senior vice president JoDee Winterhof said in a statement.

“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.

Donald Trump gives a kiss on the cheek to Iowa governor Kim Reynolds during a campaign rally in 2020 in Des Moines, Iowa. President Trump is campaigning in Iowa a few days before nation’s first presidential caucuses. (Photo by Tom Brenner/Getty Images)

“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.”

Reynolds, who has lobbied for similar legislation in the past and signed laws severely capping trans healthcare funds, has now joined 10 other GOP states in passing similar laws.

The Legislative Services Agency cautioned that, if passed, the law would place the state at risk of violating federal civil rights laws, chiefly Title IX, and conflict with school sports governing bodies.

President Joe Biden broadened Title IX, a 1972 federal law banning discrimination in schools based on sex, to emphatically include trans pupils as well.

But rather than seek to cool down the bill, Republican legislators played with matches. Igniting even further a culture war and isolating trans youth, with Democrats stressing that the bill is addressing a problem that doesn’t even exist.

Republicans brought up no examples of what they said were the unfair advantages trans athletes hold.

“To be crystal clear – this legislation is a solution in search of a problem, scoring petty political points at the expense of Iowa’s children,” said Iowa Safe Schools’ executive director, Becky Smith, in a statement.

“Today is a dark day in Iowa’s history and will be remembered by our students, their families, and voters alike.”