Reynolds signs bills barring transgender girls and women from teams matching their gender

The bill goes against current title IX and NCAA guidance.


Grace Smith

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds delivers the Condition of the State address at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines, Iowa, on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022.

Rylee Wilson, Managing Editor

Transgender women and girls are unable to compete in women’s and girls’ college and high school sports in Iowa under a new law signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds on Thursday.

The bill, HF 2416, passed in the Iowa Senate yesterday, on a 37-17 party line vote, and passed the House last week. 

Iowa is the 11th state to bar transgender women and girls from competing on sports teams that match their gender, which does not comply with federal Title IX guidance. The law takes effect immediately.

The U.S. Department of Education released guidance in June 2021 that affirmed that LGBT students are protected by Title IX.

Reynolds signed the bill Thursday at noon, surrounded by athletes and Republican leadership.

The bill bars any student who is not designated as female on their birth certificate from playing on girls’ and women’s sports teams on the high school and college level. It would require schools to designate sporting events as male, female, or co-ed.

“Women deserve the same opportunity as men to develop their talents and strive for excellence,” Reynolds said in her remarks before signing the bill. 

The nonpartisan Iowa Legislative Services Agency reported that the bill could have a financial impact, due to loss of funding for being out of compliance with federal Title IX guidance. 

The bill also does not comply with NCAA regulations regarding transgender athletes, which allows for each sport’s governing body to set rules for transgender athlete participation. 

The Legislative Services Agency reported that being out of compliance with NCAA guidelines could “risk eligibility and media rights or competition hosting revenues.” 

In a press release, Iowa Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls, D-Coralville, called the legislation hurtful, and said Reynolds should veto it. 

“Because the legislation would go into effect as soon as the Governor signs it, she is showing once again that she’s more interested in scoring political points than caring about the impact of legislation on some of the most marginalized kids in our society,” Wahls said. 

In a statement, Angus Raymond, board chair for IowaOne, an LGBT advocacy group, said Reynolds refused the group’s repeated requests for her to meet with transgender students and their families about the impact of the bill. 

“Considering her remarks just two days ago that Americans are ‘tired of politicians who tell parents they should sit down, be silent, and let government control their kids’ education and future,’ this move feels like cruel irony at best or intentional hypocrisy at worst,” Raymond said.

In a statement, Mark Stringer, executive director of the ACLU of Iowa, said the law violates the civil rights of transgender girls and women.

We should all agree that it’s important for our schools to value, support, and protect our kids and young people who are transgender,” Stringer said. “But the sad reality is that enacting this law does the opposite.”