Anti-Transgender Bills in Iowa

May 27, 2021

In President Joe Biden’s first joint address to congress, Biden said something important to the transgender community: “To all transgender Americans watching at home, especially the young people. You’re so brave. I want you to know your president has your back.” He mentioned this while a large number of bills, most negatively affecting trans youth, were being brought up. According to the Human Rights Campaign, there are currently over 200 anti-LGBTQ bills in consideration across at least 30 states, with more than half of these bills targeting transgender people. Alphonso David, President of the Human Rights Campaign, reacts to the President’s statement. “Especially in this moment, when LGBTQ rights are under attack in several states across the country, it was important to see President Biden make it clear tonight that his priority would be continuing our shared fight to ensure that every American has access to the fullness of opportunity our country affords,” David stated, “To that point, we were especially heartened to hear the president specifically uplift his support for transgender people and particularly affirm transgender kids,” David added. But is this support from the president enough to protect transgender people from the bills being passed in numerous states?

Iowa is no stranger to anti-transgender bills. Iowa, along with 31 other states, is looking into banning transgender women from certain sports. Jess Bierling is a transgender female athlete from Iowa. “The biggest problem with this issue is that you’re underestimating how good girls are in sports,” Beirling said. “That is the worst part about saying it’s unfair. You’re telling girls they’re already weaker.” Beirling concluded. Governor Reynolds defended her reasons for supporting the anti-trans bill by saying, “[Female athletes] have a right to compete and to be entitled to scholarship, and they should be able to compete with girls,” Reynolds said. “That’s it. And if a bill gets to my desk, I will sign it.” Reynolds is insisting that transgender women are not allowed to compete against cisgender women because trans women are not girls. Aiden Bettine, a transgender man in Iowa, gave his thoughts and opinions: “Even if [Governor] Kim Reynolds is not successful and the Senate and House Republicans are not successful in proposing this bill and passing it and getting it on her desk to sign before the end of the session, the message is out there,” Bettine said the message he hears is “loud and clear.” He says the message being sent from Governor Reynolds is: “We do not want transgender people in Iowa.”

During the 2021 session, they did not pass any Anti-LGBTQ+ bills, despite Governor Reynolds’s wanting to. She does wish to make those bills a priority next session. “I’m going to do what’s right for girls,” Reynolds said during the town hall. Kim has been under a lot of attacks lately due to her transphobic actions. An Iowa Action Executive Director, Courtney Reyes, responded to Governor Reynolds in a statement: “Governor Reynolds, I’m a mom too. I see every day how important sports are for kids, and the joy and sense of purpose playing organized sports brings. Just like other students, transgender children deserve the same chances to learn teamwork, sportsmanship, leadership, and self-discipline and to build a sense of belonging with their peers. That’s what playing sports is about. When we tell transgender children that they can’t play on a team with their friends, they lose out on those important life lessons. Please, do the right thing. Let these kids participate in the same way our kids can.” Now it is time for Iowa to play the waiting game until the next session, eager to find out what the future will look like for trans youth.

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