Iowa is now the 11th state to pass a law mandating that any student who wants to participate in girls’ sports must be a biological female.
Gov. Kim Reynolds signed House File 2416 into law on Thursday, which requires students to confirm their biological sex before competing in girls’ sports.
An LGBT activist group called the Movement Advancement Project is keeping a tally of the states that have passed legislation protecting girls' sports, deriding the laws as "bans on transgender youth participation in sports." Ten other states that passed such laws ahead of Iowa include: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.
Reynolds explained that the new law was “a victory for girls’ sports in Iowa.”
“No amount of talent, training or effort can make up for the natural physical advantages males have over females. It’s simply a reality of human biology,” the governor said in a statement issued on the day that she signed the legislation. “Forcing females to compete against males is the opposite of inclusivity and it’s absolutely unfair.”
The Family Leader, an Iowa-based conservative group that advocated for the legislation, released a statement on Thursday celebrating the signing of HF 2416, declaring that “protecting girls’ sports isn’t political; it’s biological reality.”
“Allowing genetically male athletes to compete in women’s sports puts our girls at an undeniable physical disadvantage and threatens their athletic opportunities,” the group added. “Our high school girls and college women deserve to compete on a level playing field, and today, that playing field is protected.”
Mark Stringer, the executive director of the Iowa chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, released a statement last week labeling the new legislation a “cruel law” that “violates the civil rights of transgender girls [boys who identify as girls] and women in our state.”
“Our legislators and the governor heard from vulnerable Iowa kids and their families, and about how important participation in school sports is to them in living fully as themselves in all aspects of their lives,” Stringer said. “Elected officials have ignored their pleas and have instead passed a law that actively marginalizes and isolates these kids. They are scoring political points at the expense of transgender girls who just want to play team sports along with other girls.”
Introduced in February, HF 2416 was passed by the House in a vote of 55-39 and the Senate in a vote of 31-17 before it was sent to the governor.
The new law defines “sex” as “a person’s biological sex as either female or male, and provides that the sex listed on the student’s official birth certificate or certificate issued upon adoption may be relied upon if the certificate was issued at or near the time of the student’s birth.”
Last week, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox announced that he planned to veto a similar bill that the state Legislature had passed, believing that it did not consider the rights of trans-identified student athletes.