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DES MOINES, Iowa – Governor Kim Reynolds signed a bill into law Thursday banning transgender girls from participating in girls’ school sports in Iowa.

Reynolds signed the legislation at the State Capitol, surrounded by a group of female youth athletes.

Ahead of the signing, Reynolds addressed the crowd, 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. Forcing females to compete against males is the opposite of inclusivity and it’s absolutely unfair.” 

The law applies to all school levels, including colleges, public and private. It does not apply to teams that are not affiliated with schools, like club teams.

Iowa Safe Schools, an organization that supports LGBTQ youth in the state, issued a statement following the signing. In part, it reads, “The dialogue pushed by proponents of this bill, calling LGBTQ individuals ‘mentally ill’ and referring to being transgender as a ‘cancer’, has permanently tarnished the reputation of Iowa Legislature and Governor Kim Reynolds. To be crystal clear – this legislation is a solution in search of a problem, scoring petty political points at the expense of Iowa’s children. Today is a dark day in Iowa’s history and will be remembered by our students, their families, and voters alike.”

Iowa Republicans pushed the measure through the legislature, with the House passing it a few weeks ago and the Senate approving it Wednesday. It passed by a vote of 31 to 17 in the Senate.

Republicans say the law protects Iowa girls and women.

“Trans girls are boys, not girls. Trans women are men, not women,” said State Senator Jeff Taylor (R) from Sioux Center. “Two plus two does not equal five and will never equal five.”

Democrats, who opposed the legislation, said the legislature should be focusing on more important issues and this isn’t currently a problem in the state.

“Trans kids they just want an opportunity to play sports for the same reason that other kids want to; they just want to be a part of a team where they belong,” said State Senator Pam Jochum (D) from Dubuque.

The measure became effective as soon as Gov. Reynolds signed the legislation.