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SAU Students React to Governor Reynolds’s Ban on Transgender Athletes

Despite many St. Ambrose students agreeing that there should be regulations on transgender athletes, there are mixed reactions to whether they believe Governor Kim Reynolds’ ban on transgender athletes competing in the state of Iowa has the good intention she claimed.

Reynolds signed off on a bill in March of 2022 that requires transgender athletes at both the high school and collegiate level to compete under their gender of birth in the state of Iowa. The bill was passed in both the state Republican majority House and Senate. The bill was also passed with no backing from any Democrat. Reynolds reasoned this as a way to “protect” women’s sports from those who pose an unfair “natural physical advantage.” Reynolds did not mention any specific incidents in which transgender athletes were dominating a sport in the state of Iowa.

Several St. Ambrose students agree with the decision to place regulations on transgender athletes, believing that transgender females, indeed, possess a natural advantage.

One female SAU student majoring in a STEM field pointed out the scientific differences men have over women that could enhance athletic performance. “Guys have more oxygen in their hemoglobin. That makes their cardiovascular capacities higher. They also have larger bone structures.” Others agree only transgender females possess an advantage. However, they allude to the idea that this advantage may only exist in certain sports. “It depends if you are a female transitioning to a male or vice versa. It’s just factual that males have different athletic abilities than what women do,” comments one female student. While many people believe transgender females possess an unfair advantage, like Reynolds, very few pointed out specific instances of transgender athletes having an unfair advantage. Despite many agreeing with Reynolds’s ban, many questioned her motives for passing the bill.

Many students express uncertainty when asked if they believed this ban is more about protecting women’s sports or targeting transgender people. “I’d hope it’s more about protecting sports. I don’t really know her (Governor Reynolds) beliefs behind it all, but I’d hope it was more to protect women’s sports,” stated a male student.

Others display absolute doubt in the Governor’s intentions. One female student believes that if it were about equalizing the playing field in women’s sports, it would focus more on the sports aspect rather than just banning a group of people from competing. Overall, very few male or female students say they fully believed Reynolds’ sentiment about protecting women’s sports.

Both male and female students displayed mixed reactions to Governor Reynolds’s intention of the ban. However, many say that regulations were necessary. Both male and female students equally noted that transgender females in particular possess biological advantages.

The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union (IGHSAU), the governing body of girls’ high school
sports in Iowa, has released a statement labeling the bill as discriminatory, and that students
should be allowed to compete under the gender in which they identify. As of today, the ban
remains in place.

Cole Negen is a staff writer for The Buzz.