May 28, 2022

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Sports Really Satisfies

High school athletes react to controversial transgender sports law in Iowa

Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a controversial bill into law Thursday, calling it “a victory in girls sports in Iowa.” The law bans transgender girls and women from participating in female school sports. It took effect Thursday afternoon. “As a parent of a transgender girl, right now I’m extremely disappointed. It’s gut-wrenching,” said Tiffany Smith. Her daughter Gavy is a freshman at Decorah High School and, as a transgender athlete, will no longer be able to play on girls sports teams. “This one’s a tough one to swallow. taking these kids and pushing them to the side and basically telling them they don’t matter don’t fit this perfect mold,” Tiffany Smith said. “I worry about these kids and what’s going to happen with their mental health.”Gavy Smith played on the girls volleyball team and was looking forward to playing girls golf.”I don’t play sports for the competition. I just play it because I find it fun,” Gavy Smith said. “I love the environment, being able to play with my friends and just being included because that’s what helped me through my transition is playing sports with friends.”She’ll only be able to play on the men’s team now but said, “that just wouldn’t feel right because I would just feel like the odd one out.”She said she understands lawmakers are trying to make sports fair but said the law “is just making a non-existent problem worse and preventing transgender kids from being included when that’s all they really want.”But, speaking at the statehouse just before the bill was signed into law, another high school athlete argued in support. “I don’t think words could ever be enough to describe just how much this bill means to me and all other female athletes in Iowa,” Ainsley Erzen said, a senior at Carlisle High School. In an opinion article for The Des Moines Register, Erzen wrote, “The time that made me the fastest Iowa high school female 800 runner of all time, the time that earned me the title of national champion, was easily beat by 85 high school boys at the 2021 Iowa high school state track meet alone…There is no explanation for the performance gap except for biological differences.”Erzen addressed the crowds standing at the bill-signing.”Iowa girls today in every generation will be able to pursue the things they love to the best of their ability, whether that’s chasing titles, records and scholarships, or earning a starting position or spot on the team. No girl will be sidelined in her own sport,” she said.But Liberty High School senior Ashlyn Keeney argues those titles, records and scholarships aren’t in danger. “I do not know anyone who is transitioning or wanting to compete in female sports, because they want medals or want titles,” Keeney said. “Individuals aren’t transitioning just to beat girls and they’re not pretending to be women. They are women.”Keeney has state-championship titles in both cross country and track and field, but says it’s not her successes that she’ll remember the most when she looks back on her high school sports career. “When I look back on my career, I’m going to be thinking about the good times I had with my team and celebrations. I want everyone to have a part in that,” Keeney said. “I’d rather race with transgender athletes and possibly be beaten than know that there are people who wish they could be out there running with me and they’re not.”

Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a controversial bill into law Thursday, calling it “a victory in girls sports in Iowa.” The law bans transgender girls and women from participating in female school sports. It took effect Thursday afternoon.

“As a parent of a transgender girl, right now I’m extremely disappointed. It’s gut-wrenching,” said Tiffany Smith. Her daughter Gavy is a freshman at Decorah High School and, as a transgender athlete, will no longer be able to play on girls sports teams.

“This one’s a tough one to swallow. [It’s] taking these kids and pushing them to the side and basically telling them they don’t matter [because they] don’t fit this perfect mold,” Tiffany Smith said. “I worry about these kids and what’s going to happen with their mental health.”

Hearst Owned

Gavy Smith is a transgender girl and a freshman at Decorah High School. She’s no longer allowed to play on the girls volleyball team. 

Gavy Smith played on the girls volleyball team and was looking forward to playing girls golf.

“I don’t play sports for the competition. I just play it because I find it fun,” Gavy Smith said. “I love the environment, being able to play with my friends and just being included because that’s what helped me through my transition is playing sports with friends.”

She’ll only be able to play on the men’s team now but said, “that just wouldn’t feel right because I would just feel like the odd one out.”

She said she understands lawmakers are trying to make sports fair but said the law “is just making a non-existent problem worse and preventing transgender kids from being included when that’s all they really want.”

But, speaking at the statehouse just before the bill was signed into law, another high school athlete argued in support.

high school athletes react to controversial transgender sports law

Hearst Owned

Ainsley Erzen spoke in support of the bill just before it was signed into law. She’s a senior at Carlisle High School who broke the state record for the girls 800 meter race.

“I don’t think words could ever be enough to describe just how much this bill means to me and all other female athletes in Iowa,” Ainsley Erzen said, a senior at Carlisle High School.

In an opinion article for The Des Moines Register, Erzen wrote, “The time that made me the fastest Iowa high school female 800 runner of all time, the time that earned me the title of national champion, was easily beat by 85 high school boys at the 2021 Iowa high school state track meet alone…There is no explanation for the performance gap except for biological differences.”

Erzen addressed the crowds standing at the bill-signing.

“Iowa girls today in every generation will be able to pursue the things they love to the best of their ability, whether that’s chasing titles, records and scholarships, or earning a starting position or spot on the team. No girl will be sidelined in her own sport,” she said.

But Liberty High School senior Ashlyn Keeney argues those titles, records and scholarships aren’t in danger.

“I do not know anyone who is transitioning or wanting to compete in female sports, because they want medals or want titles,” Keeney said. “Individuals aren’t transitioning just to beat girls and they’re not pretending to be women. They are women.”

high school athletes react to controversial transgender sports bill

Hearst Owned

Ashlyn Keeney is a senior at Liberty High School. She has state-championship titles in both cross country and track and field.

Keeney has state-championship titles in both cross country and track and field, but says it’s not her successes that she’ll remember the most when she looks back on her high school sports career.

“When I look back on my career, I’m going to be thinking about the good times I had with my team and celebrations. I want everyone to have a part in that,” Keeney said. “I’d rather race with transgender athletes and possibly be beaten than know that there are people who wish they could be out there running with me and they’re not.”