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Iowa’s trans student athlete bill heads to Gov. Reynolds’ desk

Linh Ta

An Iowa bill prohibiting trans girls from competing in women’s K-12 and collegiate sports that align with their gender identity is heading to the desk of Gov. Kim Reynolds, who’s suggested she’d “probably sign it.”

Driving the news: The Iowa Senate passed House File 2416 Wednesday following an emotional, hourslong debate where lawmakers shared personal anecdotes about the importance of sports in children’s lives — but differed on how that should look for trans girls.

What they’re saying: Republican lawmakers, who were the sole supporters of the bill, argued that they’re trying to retain equity in girl’s sports — claiming trans athletes have unfair athletic advantages, though failed to share a local example.

  • Democrats argued the bill needlessly hurts vulnerable LGBTQ youth who just want to have fun with their friends and play sports.

Meanwhile, Becky Smith, who leads LGBTQ youth advocacy group Iowa Safe Schools, said in a statement, “These votes will be remembered as an embarrassing attempt to score cheap political points, at the expense of innocent children. Iowans deserve better, and transgender children deserve better.”

The big picture: 2021 saw a record number of anti-trans bills introduced in state legislatures. Last week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered state agencies to investigate gender-affirming care for transgender children as child abuse.

  • Medical experts and doctors fear an increase in mental health crises among transgender kids due to the dozens of bills introduced to criminalize gender-affirming health care.

What’s ahead: It remains unclear when Reynolds could make a decision.

  • If signed by the governor, the bill would immediately take effect.


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