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Reynolds Says She Wants To Sign A Transgender Sports Ban; Lawmakers Working On Legislation

Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks during a news conference Wednesday, March 17, 2021, in Johnston, a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds says all Iowa residents will be eligible for coronavirus vaccinations on April 5 as long as supply projections are met.
Olivia Sun
The Des Moines Register via AP
Gov. Kim Reynolds says she wants to sign a law that would ban transgender women and girls from participating in women’s sports.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said last week on Fox News she wants to sign a new law before the end of this legislative session that would ban transgender women and girls from participating in women’s sports.

There is no such bill currently eligible for debate in the Iowa Legislature, but the proposal could come up as an amendment to another bill, or as a new bill agreed upon by the Republican leaders of the House and Senate.

Reynolds was asked about this issue Thursday on “The Ingraham Angle Red State Trailblazers Town Hall,” where she appeared with four other Republican governors.

“I’m going to do what’s right for my state. I’m going to do what’s right for girls,” Reynolds said. “I’m a mom of three daughters and the grandmother of three granddaughters who compete. And it’s the right thing to do. They should have the same opportunities, and we’re working on legislation, too. I should have that to my desk hopefully by the end of this legislative session and we’ll be signing that bill into law.”

A spokesperson for the Iowa House Republicans confirmed some state representatives are working on legislation related to transgender athletes. In March, a small group of Republican representativesintroduced a transgender sports ban as an amendment to a separate bill, but then withdrew the amendment.

Iowa Safe Schools Executive Director Becky Ritland said it’s “frustrating” that the governor is bringing this proposal up late in the session.

“In the state of Iowa, we have had zero cases of a transgender student participating in sports in an unequal way or using any sort of advantage to advance their athletic career, if you will,” Ritland said. “It’s really just disappointing.”

Ritland said this effort sends a message to trans youth that they don’t belong in their own community, and that can be harmful to their mental health.

This type of legislation also raises concerns for Ritland about how it would be enforced. The amendment previously filed in the Iowa Legislature would require a doctor to certify the “biological sex,” or sex assigned at birth, of any student whose “biological sex” is “disputed.” It would also require examination of the student’s testosterone levels and genetic makeup.

“That is such a dangerous road to go down, because at the very end of the day, it’s an incredible invasion of privacy,” Ritland said.

Governors in five states have signed laws this year that aim to ban transgender women and girls from competing on sports teams that align with their gender identity, according to NPR. And a few more states legislatures passed similar bills, but they were vetoed or are awaiting a governor’s signature.

Idaho was the first state to pass a transgender sports ban in 2020, but a federal court blocked its enforcement. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was scheduled to hear arguments in the case Monday.

Republican legislators in Iowaintroduced several anti-trans bills at the start of this legislative session, but none advanced past an initial hearing.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter