Opinion | All Iowa girls should be allowed to compete in girls’ sports.

Removing transgender girls from girls’ sports is not a fairness issue — it’s transphobic.


Grace Smith

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds shakes hands with Senate President Jake Chapman during the Condition of the State Address at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines, Iowa, on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022. During the State Address, Reynolds spoke about childcare, Iowa teachers, material taught in schools, unemployment, tax cuts, and more.

Yassie Buchanan, Opinions Columnist

Gov. Kim Reynolds proudly signed legislation barring transgender girls from playing sports in Iowa. While many people argue this is a complicated issue regarding fairness, there is nothing complicated or unfair about allowing girls to play girls’ sports.

To understand this, you have to understand the difference between gender and sex. Sex refers to biological characteristics like reproductive organs and hormones. Gender is a social construct referring to the norms associated with masculinity and femininity. These two often get conflated with each other, especially when talking about sports.

There is no single biological way to be a gender and reducing eligibility to this false standard is transphobic.

We have already seen how these false associations of biology and gender have played out in elite sports.

Cisgender Black women were barred from participating in the Olympics because of having natural testosterone levels that were too high. The only way these women would have been allowed to race was if they took medication to decrease their natural testosterone levels.

At the time, experts said there was not enough evidence to prove if these athletes’ testosterone levels would give them an advantage.

Ironically, when transgender athletes competed in the Tokyo Olympics, research showed that transgender women do not have an athletic advantage over cisgender women.

Because of continually conflating people’s biological makeup with their gender, young girls in Iowa are being politicized and unfairly targeted.

People often refer to trans athletes in sports as a fairness issue. However, minimal research has been done to even back claims like these. Scientists also often do not support bans on these athletes.

Despite what doctors, researchers, politicians, or anyone says at the end of the day the biological make-up of a girl or woman should not exclude them from playing sports. Sports aren’t separated by sex; they are separated by gender.

It’s especially transphobic for the governor to claim that this bill is a protection of the integrity of women’s sports. Reynolds made discriminatory remarks saying, “This is 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.”

If this bill was about fairness, all girls would be allowed to play girls’ sports.

Reynolds’ effort to separate sports based on being assigned female or male at birth excludes intersex individuals whose biological make-up does not fit the confines of being assigned female or male. There are several logical issues with this bill because this was not an effort to protect girls. It was a discriminatory act.

With minimal research, and the fact that transgender girls make up such a small portion of girls in Iowa, this bill was made as a hateful way to exclude these athletes. There are complex issues our government could concentrate on like, the fact that Iowa is ranked as the third worst place for Black people to live. However, instead of facing these issues, Iowa Republicans have made discriminatory initiatives toward young athletes.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.