Iowa becomes second state to enact anti-trans sports ban this year

Iowa becomes second state to enact anti-trans sports ban this year

Governor Kim Reynolds’ decision to sign House file 2416 means the state joins South Dakota in enacting such a ban this year, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. His signing comes as Republican-led states step up efforts to restrict the lives of transgender youth, including Texas, where state officials are trying to declare certain types of gender-affirming care for trans youth such as child abuse.

Iowa law states, “Only female students, based on their gender, may participate in any team, sport, or athletic event designated as women’s, women’s, or girls-only.” The measure defines “sex” as the sex listed on a student’s birth certificate or adoption certificate “issued at or near the time of the student’s birth.”

While sex is a category that largely refers to physiology, a person’s gender is an innate sense of identity. Factors that go into determining the sex listed on a birth certificate can include anatomy, genetics, and hormones, and there is wide natural variation in each of these categories. For this reason, critics have said that the language of “biological sex”, as used in this legislation, is overly simplistic and misleading.

Proponents of these measures have argued that transgender women and girls have physical advantages over cisgender women and girls in sports. Corn a 2017 report in the journal Sports Medicine which reviewed several related studies found “no direct or consistent research” on trans people having an athletic advantage over their cisgender peers, and critics say this legislation adds to the discrimination that trans people face, especially young trans people.

During the bill’s signing on Thursday, Reynolds used transphobic language to justify the need for the ban, saying, “No amount of talent, training or effort can outweigh the natural physical advantages that men have on women. It’s just a fact of human biology.”

“Forcing women to compete with men is the opposite of inclusiveness and it’s absolutely unfair,” she said.

The law went into effect immediately after Reynolds signed it.

The debate over the inclusion of transgender athletes, particularly women and girls, has become a political flashpoint in recent years, especially among conservatives.

Last year, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Montana, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia enacted similar sports bans, infuriating LGBTQ advocates, who argue that conservatives create a problem where there is none.

Opponents have had limited legal success fighting the measures, including last year when a federal judge temporarily blocked West Virginia’s enforcement of its ban after lawyers sued the state, the judge saying he had “received little evidence that this law addresses any issue at all, let alone a significant issue.” And in 2020, a federal judge blocked Idaho’s enforcement of its sports ban.
Lawyers sued Tennessee in November seeking to overturn that state’s ban, though a decision in that case has yet to be rendered.

All of these challenges were met with the help of the ACLU. CNN reached out to the organization for comment on the Iowa law.

The NCAA has spoken out against such bans, saying last April that it is monitoring them closely to ensure the NCAA Championships can be held “in a way that is welcoming and respectful of all participants.”

Lawyers tore Reynolds on Thursday for his decision to sign the law, with the Trevor Project, a non-profit that works on preventing suicide among LGBTQ youth, saying it “will have serious mental health implications.” trans youth.

“Shutting down trans students will only contribute to the social isolation and stigma that fuels bullying and mental health issues among trans youth – issues they already face at alarming rates” said Sam Ames, the group’s director for advocacy and government affairs, in a statement.

The Human Rights Campaign, one of the nation’s largest LGBTQ rights groups, said the bill’s approval marks “a shameful moment in Iowa history.”

“With the stroke of a pen, and without even bothering to meet with transgender children or their parents, Governor Reynolds has reversed years of progress and set our state back,” said JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president of the Human Rights Campaign for politics and politics. business, in a press release.

CNN’s Michelle Watson contributed to this report.