Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has signed a bill that restricts women’s and girls’ sports to athletes who are, in fact, women and girls, making the Hawkeye State the latest state to pass such legislation.
The bill, HF 2416, requires that athletes enrolled in girls’ and women’s sports at both public and private schools and community colleges, as well as universities affiliated with the National Collegiate Athletic Association and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, be limited to athletes listed as female on their birth certificates.
“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,” Reynolds said Thursday while signing the bill, surrounded by smiling young women and girls. “Forcing females to compete against males is the opposite of inclusivity and it’s absolutely unfair.”
“It worries me that this bill is needed at all. It’s hard to imagine how anyone who cares about the rights of women and girls could support anything less,” she also said, according to NPR.
“The message that women are so much more than a hormone level, that the things girls love are worth protecting and their hard work and dedication is recognized and their dreams can become a reality,” local track star Ainsley Erzen, who has been an outspoken proponent for protecting women’s and girl’s sports, said at the signing ceremony.
Iowa is the latest of several states to pass legislation protecting women’s sports. Last year was a record-breaking year for such legislation; 37 states drafted similar bills with Idaho, Montana, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, West Virginia and Florida successfully passing measures restricting women and girls’ sports to female athletes only.
The issue has been drawing attention across the nation for some time, but college swimmer Lia Thomas of the University of Pennsylvania, who has been enjoying a wildly successful career on the women’s team after competing on the men’s team for three years, has brought the issue to the forefront in recent months.
Proponents of transgender athletes in women’s and girls’ sports were out in full force on Thursday as Reynolds signed the legislation, which Iowa’s Democrats unsuccessfully opposed.
Becky Smith, the executive director of the LGBT youth organization Iowa Safe Schools stood behind Reynolds and silently held up a transgender flag in what the group said was a display of solidarity for transgender athletes.
“It’s just a reminder that transgender students matter, that they’re here, that they’re not going anywhere,” she said, NPR reported. “Despite the fact that their rights are being infringed upon by the passage of this bill, we stand with them. We have not forgotten them and the fight continues for LGBTQ youth across the state.”
Today, we stood in solidarity with our trans students at the Iowa Capitol. Flanked by the American and Iowa flags, we stood silently behind @IAGovernor as she signed this discriminatory bill with the same flag that flew over the State Capitol for Trans Day of Remembrance in 2019 pic.twitter.com/fb7q7n3owf
— Iowa Safe Schools (@iowasafeschools) March 3, 2022
There’s an elephant in the room when it comes to transgender athletes competing in women’s sports — well, two, if you count the fact that legislation like this only ever targets women’s sports. It highlights the stark reality that absolutely no one thinks that female athletes will have an unfair advantage over male athletes if allowed to compete in men’s and boys’ sports. (Under HR 2416, female athletes who identify as male are still free to play on boys’ and men’s teams.)
Something we rarely discuss, but ought to, is that transgender advocates seem to take for granted that transgender athletes somehow need to compete in sports — or that, as Smith said, they have a “right” to, in fact.
I have my strong opinions about what people who identify as members of the opposite sex need, and it is most certainly not for their deep-seated psychological issues to be ignored while they undergo hormone therapy, life-altering surgeries and wardrobe transformations.
Yet even if we concede that transgender people “have a right to exist,” i.e., ought to be “allowed” to live their lives in the pursuit of an outward appearance that resembles the gender they believe themselves to be in spite of their biology, why do we assume this means they have the “right” to do everything as though they were a member of the opposite sex?
Perhaps if this very small portion of the population that identifies as transgender wishes to pursue the drastic physical changes that are considered necessary for them to live lives as their “true selves,” they can respectfully accept that athletics is something they’ll have to give up?
This strikes at the root of many of the worldview issues which interfere with sensible, compassionate conversations about transgenderism. It’s never been about helping people who identify as members of the opposite sex, it’s always been about demanding that all of society agree that men can be women and must be treated as such, and if you disagree, clearly you’re a hateful bigot.
And this is precisely why lawmakers cannot flinch when they set about making sure that female athletes retain their right to compete on an equal playing field — because it is simply not bigoted, it is not hateful, it is not discriminatory to recognize the biological reality of transgenderism and how it might leave female athletes at a disadvantage to compete against biological males, regardless of how they identify or appear to the naked eye.
No one’s rights are being infringed — no one, that is, except for women, whose rights were established under Title IX federal protections, allowing them to compete on a level, safe playing field.
Indeed, it was only a few decades ago that feminists were passionately fighting for a fair space for women in sports. For all my disagreements with modern feminism, this is one point I believe they got 100 percent right.
There’s nothing feminist at all about taking women-only spaces away from them, least of all for a man who probably needs much, much more from society than to simply be allowed to compete against a woman as though he actually was one.
The bullying has gone on too long. Stop the madness — save women’s sports.