Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has signed a law banning trans women and girls from participating in school sports teams and activities that align with their gender.

House File 2416 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”.

The Iowa bill defines sex as “a person’s biological sex as either female or male. The sex listed on a 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”.

This newly approved legislation will apply to “educational institutions” such as public and private K-12 schools, community colleges, higher education, colleges, and universities affiliated with the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) and NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics).

Reynolds signed the bill in the Iowa Capitol rotunda alongside Republican lawmakers, young children and women.

Before signing the bill, the governor reiterated her belief that trans women maintain a “physical advantage” in sports.

The law went into immediate effect immediately after Reynolds signed it.

“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,” said Reynolds.

“No amount of talent, training or effort on their part can make up for the natural, physical advantages males have over females.”

Tanner Krause, CEO of a prominent Iowa-based business called out the discriminatory bill online. 

“I strongly oppose this anti-LGBTQ law. These kids deserve the right to play sports,” he posted. “We are sending the wrong message to the next-gen of Iowans & Americans. Iowa should be attracting people, not shutting them out. This shouldn’t even be an issue.”

“This is a disgusting abuse of power by Iowa’s Governor and the majorities in the Iowa Legislature. We should be doing all we can to protect trans students, not further marginalizing them. This is a legislative solution looking for a problem,” Nate Gruber, Cedar Falls School Board Member, tweeted.

The Human Rights Campaign called the newly passed bill “a shameful moment in Iowa’s history.”

“With the stroke of her pen, and without even bothering to meet with transgender kids or their parents, Governor Reynolds has reversed years of progress and moved our state backwards,” said JoDee Winterhof, the Human Rights Campaign’s senior vice president, in a statement.

Last year, a record 26 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were enacted into law across ten states, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

Since 2021, over 20 American states have introduced anti-trans bills that would ban trans girls from participating in girls’ sports teams in public high schools.

Several of these states include Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Montana, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia which enacted similar sports bans.

On March 1, an Indiana bill banning trans girls from participating in sports was passed by the state Senate.

In 2022, at least 160 anti-LGBTQ bills are already pending in state legislatures, many of which target trans youth and their participation in sports, as well as access to medical care, LGBTQ+ education in classrooms, and access to appropriate bathrooms.

Similar to Iowa’s ban, Indiana’s proposed bill would prohibit students (kindergarten to grade 12) who were assigned male at birth but identify as female from competing in a women’s or girl’s sports team.

The Indiana bill follows 2021 becoming the deadliest year on record for trans people in America.

At least 53 transgender or gender non-conforming people were fatally shot or killed by other violent means – with the actual number expected to be far higher as these stories often go misreported or unreported entirely.

According to the HRC, in 2020 approximately seven in ten transgender and gender non-conforming people killed as a result of fatal violence were killed by an acquaintance, friend, family member or intimate partner.