116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
So the same governor who claims to care deeply for children’s mental health is also willing to dump on transgender kids to score political points on Fox News.
I’ve seen a lot of shameless displays in my years covering politics, and this one ranks right up there.
Last week, Gov. Kim Reynolds went on conservative talk host Laura Ingraham’s “Red State Trailblazers” town hall with governors from Mississippi, Texas, Florida and Nebraska. Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves has signed legislation banning transgender girls and women from participating on high school and college sports teams and a Florida bill has cleared the Legislature.
Reynolds would not be outdone. The governor said she’s working on similar legislation in Iowa she intends to sign this spring. This came as a surprise to Iowans, both because we thought the idea was dead and that the governor expressed an actual opinion on legislation.
“I’m going to do what’s right for girls,” Reynolds said. “I’m a mom of three daughters and the grandmother of three granddaughters who compete. And it’s the right thing to do.”
Reynolds is following the lead of several red states where Republican leaders have argued that transgender girls with male biology will dominate girls’ sports. Armed with a handful of anecdotes and no scientific evidence they’re punishing children to fulfill their culture war fantasies.
Last year, the Trevor Project, a suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ youth, conducted a large survey that found more than half of kids who identify as transgender or nonbinary have considered suicide. Research has found that greater levels of support and acceptance dramatically lower suicide rates.
So when the governor pushed for in-person schooling during the pandemic, she swore it wasn’t politics. It was about the mental health of children isolated by online learning. Now she wants to further isolate transgender youth in Iowa and send the message they’re less supported and accepted, just so she can make Iowa more like Mississippi and Arkansas. This is the “right thing to do.”
If the Olympics gave out medals for cynical calculation, Reynolds would be world class.
Both governing bodies of high school girls’ and boys’ athletics in Iowa set guidelines in 2015 allowing transgender athletes to compete, pointing to the fact Iowa’s civil rights code has protected gender identity since 2007. Local schools are handling this.
So what’s the problem? Asked by Iowa reporters Wednesday if she could cite examples of why action is needed, Reynolds evaded. “It’s a fairness issue,” she said repeatedly.
And Reynolds, mother and grandmother, ought to know high school sports is about more than competition.
My dad coached girls’ softball and basketball in Iowa for the better part of five decades. When former players reached out to him it wasn’t to relive the glories of past wins and championships. It was to thank him for teaching them about hard work, teamwork and leadership. Coaching at its best is teaching, and sports are part of a school’s educational mission.
Barring any student from accessing that education and those positive experiences is abhorrent and un-Iowan. And it’s especially outrageous when done in the service of righteous crusaders who have been wrong so many times. Remember how marriage equality would flood Iowa with polygamists?
Better yet, ask the kids who play sports. I know a couple of girls pretty well who competed in athletics and have no problem with transgender teammates. For them, it’s a non-issue.
Leave transgender kids alone. Also, let’s dump this “trailblazer” and find a new path.
(319) 398-8262; firstname.lastname@example.org