Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill Thursday prohibiting transgender girls and women from participating on female sports teams from kindergarten through college.
“This is a victory for girls sports in Iowa,” Reynolds said before she signed the legislation, according to NBC affiliate WHO of Des Moines.
Reynolds, a Republican, was surrounded by young female athletes at the signing ceremony at the Iowa Capitol, according to WHO, and appeared to refer to transgender women and girls as “males” as she addressed the crowd.
“No amount of talent, training or effort can make up for the natural physical advantages males have over females,” she said. “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 measure passed the state Senate 31-17 on Wednesday after it passed the House last month by a vote of 55-39. Only Republicans voted for it.
Iowa Safe Schools, an LGBTQ youth advocacy group, called the legislation “a solution in search of a problem” to score “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,” the organization tweeted.
The law takes effect immediately.
Iowa joins 10 other GOP-led states in limiting transgender students’ ability to participate in school sports. All 11 states passed such measures in the past two years.
Advocates say anti-trans bills have a negative effect on the well-being of LGBTQ youths, even when they don’t become law.
A recent poll conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ youth suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization, found that 85 percent of transgender and nonbinary youths and two-thirds of all LGBTQ youths said recent debates about state laws to restrict the rights of trans people have negatively affected their mental health.