116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The Iowa Legislature is in overtime, scrambling to strike a compromise on a multibillion-dollar budget. It could be several more weeks, we’re told.
With real work yet to be done, Gov. Kim Reynolds is calling on the Legislature to spend time debating young Iowans’ genitals.
A bill to restrict transgender girls from participating in girls sports is apparently a top priority for the governor. She didn’t mention it during her Condition of the State address five months ago, but instead during a Fox News broadcast a week ago, after the Legislature’s targeted adjournment date.
Reynolds’ late addendum to the legislative agenda was part of a panel discussion among a select group of GOP governors on Laura Ingraham’s prime-time program. The forum was meant to highlight how the governors “preserved our God-given freedoms” during the pandemic, Ingraham said in the show’s introduction.
Reynolds and her peers delivered a topsy-turvy vision of freedom — one where you don’t have to wear a mask but where classroom speech is dictated by the government, social media companies are heavily regulated and the contents of kids’ underwear are subject to state-sanctioned inspection.
Panelists lashed out at a federal proposal to increase legal protection for LGBTQ Americans. When the Mississippi governor boasted of being the first to sign legislation “to protect female athletes,” Reynolds jumped in to say she would do the same.
“We are working on legislation. I should have that on my desk by the end of this legislative session and we will sign that bill,” Reynolds said, drawing applause from the Florida audience.
However, lawmakers aren’t actually working on that issue. They introduced legislation to that effect early in the session but never even hosted a subcommittee hearing.
Under the proposal, which was dead until Reynolds ordered its revival, “students of the male sex” (including transgender girls) would be ineligible to participate in girls sports.
Such a policy is spiteful and unnecessary, but what’s really enraging is a section on “Disputes of biological sex.”
To prove their biological sex, an athlete would have to get a signed statement from a doctor to verify their “internal and external reproductive anatomy” and “normal, endogenously produced levels of testosterone.”
What constitutes a legitimate dispute? The legislation doesn’t say. Anyone potentially could file a frivolous complaint to force a star athlete to go have their junk checked out at the doctor’s office. It’s a free country, after all.
One of Reynolds’ fellow GOP governors took issue with such infringements on privacy.
“You have a right to participate in society without them asking you to divulge your health information,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said.
OK, DeSantis wasn’t really talking about trans athletes. He was talking about vaccine passports.
Conservatives are moving to restrict COVID-19 vaccination verification schemes, even if they are imposed by private businesses. It’s a tricky issue, but vaccine passport bans can reasonably be seen as infringing on our rights to private property and free association.
The Iowa Legislature recently finalized a vaccine passport bill, which Reynolds is expected to sign.
“It’s a marginalized society, this two-tiered society, either adhere or be marginalized — and that is ridiculous, that is not who we are as Americans,” Reynolds said of vaccine passports.
Adhere or be marginalized? Imagine how transgender kids feel.
The vaccine passport discussion was teed up by a question from the audience. The asker offered an interesting frame: “Human beings have a right to free movement and to not have their daily activities infringed upon.”
Governors nodded along, but within the hour they had forgotten about the right to free movement when they took turns fear mongering over the surge of migrants at the southern border. Reynolds reiterated that Iowa would not aid migrant children, again calling it President Joe Biden’s problem.
Free movement, except for those people.
Governors participated in rounds of one-upsmanship, bickering over which one of them loves bloated police budgets and hates Big Tech the most. The common theme is using state power to impose a specific set of social values.
Their idea of freedom is flimsy, dissonant and plainly un-American. Freedom for some, genital inspections for others.
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