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Gov. Reynolds pushing for law preventing transgender girls from competing in girls sports

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WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL)- Governor Kim Reynolds is calling on state lawmakers to pass a law preventing transgender girls from competing in girls sports.

"It is a fairness issue," Reynolds said during her weekly press conference Wednesday morning. "We want to make sure that they can compete and have the same opportunities."

Keenan Crow, Policy and Advocacy Director for LGBTQ support organization One Iowa, called the Governor's push upsetting and said the legislation would upend kids' lives.

"It does not seem to jive with the science or with what we've seen nationally or internationally," Crow said. "There are several international sporting bodies that allow transgender folks to compete, so that cannot be about fairness."

During an appearance on Fox News last week, Reynolds said if legislation barring transgender girls from competing in girls sports makes it to her desk, she will sign it.

"We either have girls sports, or we don't," she said. "They have a right to compete and to be entitled to scholarships, and they should be able to compete with girls."

Reynolds was asked directly by reporters if a specific instance of an Iowa transgender female athlete gained an unfair advantage to win, but she did not provide one.

Crow called the legislation a solution without a problem.

"It really helps no one, and it harms specific people," Crow said. "People are going to say that this benefits women and girls in some way, but it simply does not."

Iowa state law currently bans discrimination based on "gender identity," including in sports. The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union, which oversees girl's middle and high school sports, said it is up to local schools to determine an athlete's gender identity. Currently, transgender athletes are allowed to play in both boys and girls sports. If an athlete's gender is disputed, IGHSA officials have the power to make a decision, though they have never had to do so.

An IGHSA official said they assume transgender athletes have competed in Iowa sports but could not say with 100% certainty.

"When school officials recognize a transgender girl is a girl during the school day, but then treat her as if she's a boy when sports practice starts, it is not just hurtful to the student," Crow said. "It also disrupts that school's policy of treating all kids fairly and can have some external negative consequences."

Across the country, more than 30 states including Iowa have introduced legislation that would bar transgender girls from competing in girls sports. Iowa's bill fell short after it did not make it past one of the funnel deadlines.

Since the transgender sports bill missed a funnel deadline, it cannot be brought up for debate and passed on its own. State lawmakers could either introduce a new bill or add it as an amendment to a different bill in the closing days of the legislative session.

"Any last-second attempts to try to shoehorn them in are not going to allow the people that are most impacted by this legislation to tell lawmakers how it impacts them," Crow said.

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Daniel Perreault

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