By: Mylo Fisherman
Transgender girls and women will be banned from competing in girls' sports offered by all of Iowa’s schools, colleges and universities solely based on their gender identity. This is because of HF 2416, a bill that passed through the House in a 55-39 vote. Iowa’s Governor Kim Reynolds signed this bill into law on March 3, 2022.
According to the law, “any interscholastic athletic team, sport or athletic event that is sponsored or sanctioned by an accredited nonpublic school, school district or athletic organization must be designated as females, women or girls; males, men or boys; or coeducational or mixed based on the sex at birth of the participating students.”
The law also states that “only female students, based on their sex, may participate in any team, sport or athletic event designated as being for females, women or girls.” In short, this bill directly targets transgender girls and women because these women were assigned male at birth, they no longer qualify to play for the girls or women’s team.
Reynolds states in reference to the law that, "Girls have dreams and aspirations of earning a scholarship to help pay for college. Girls have dreams and aspirations of one day competing in the Olympics." She continues, "So it’s a fairness issue."
The issue of fairness, particularly in regards to women’s sports, is brought up a lot as an argument against transgender individuals in sports because many think that if we just exclude trans girls and women from playing, cis girls and women can excel. This leaves trans girls and women who are good at sports to be forced to either feel dysphoric playing on a team that doesn’t match their gender or not play at all. It is a shame that our society is forcing trans athletes to make a decision like that. Trans girls and women deserve to have the same dreams and aspirations of earning a scholarship and competing in the Olympics as cis women do.
The Center for American Progress (CAP) is an independent nonpartisan policy institute that is dedicated to improving the lives of all Americans. In a report released by the CAP, they found that the exclusion of the transgender community from sports excludes them from the overall health benefits of athletics. These benefits include lower risks of anxiety, depression and suicide, as well as decreased rates of tobacco and drug use. This further emphasizes that banning trans individuals from sports only harms trans individuals.
Last year, at a record-breaking statistic, 347 states introduced 147 anti-transgender bills. These bills touch on a variety of trans issues such as sports, bathroom and medical policies all of which aim to strip away the rights that trans Americans have to live their lives the same way everyone else does. This year is on track to have roughly 280 anti-trans bills filed for the 2022 legislative session. These bills' introductions, regardless of whether they passed, have had a damaging impact on the LGBTQIA+ community. 2021 and 2020 were the deadliest and second deadliest years on record for trans and gender non-conforming individuals respectively, with 2022 being on track to set a new record.
According to Beck LaBarbera, a sophomore nursing major, “To live in a country where there are active laws being passed to prevent people from being themselves is disgusting. The fact that trans individuals are constantly having bills passed against them by people who truly have no say in what we do with our bodies is absurd.” They added, “I hope that as a community we can band together to try and rally against these bills.”
Amid the political debate, public opinion voting has indicated a strong display of support for the transgender community. In a poll conducted by PBS, they found that 66 percent of Americans, including 70 percent of Republicans, oppose the anti-transgender sports ban legislation such as the one in Iowa. Although polls have shown positive support for the transgender community, action needs to be taken to support these favorable attitudes in order to ensure the equality of transgender individuals that a majority of Americans want.