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DES MOINES, Iowa (LifeSiteNews) — The Iowa House voted 55-39 Monday to approve a bill that would disqualify biological males suffering gender dysphoria from participating in schools’ and universities’ female athletic programs.

“This bill is not about discrimination. This bill is about protection,” said Republican state Rep. Skyler Wheeler of the measure, the Des Moines Register reports. “Ladies and gentlemen of the House, it’s simple: Girls should not be sidelined in their own sports.”

An earlier version of the bill only covered kindergarten through high school, but it was amended Monday to include both public and private colleges. Companion legislation is currently pending before the Republican-controlled state Senate that applies to all of those categories except private colleges.

It remains to be seen whether the discrepancy will be a point of contention between the two legislative chambers, but Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds is expected to sign it into law. Previously she called on the legislature to take action on the issue, without committing to specific language before reading it.

“Girls have dreams and aspirations of earning a scholarship to help pay for college,” the governor said earlier this month. “Girls have dreams and aspirations of one day competing in the Olympics. So it’s a fairness issue.”

Conservatives argue that indulging transgender athletes in this way undermines the rational basis for gendered athletics and deprives female athletes of recognition and professional or academic opportunities. Scientific research affirms that physiology gives males distinct advantages in athletics, which hormone suppression does not suffice to cancel out.

In a paper published by the Journal of Medical Ethics, New Zealand researchers found that “healthy young men [do] not lose significant muscle mass (or power) when their circulating testosterone levels were reduced to (below International Olympic Committee guidelines) for 20 weeks,” and “indirect effects of testosterone” on factors such as bone structure, lung volume, and heart size “will not be altered by hormone therapy”; therefore, “the advantage to transwomen (biological men) afforded by the (International Olympic Committee) guidelines is an intolerable unfairness.” 

Apart from questions of competitive advantage, critics point out that forcing female athletics to accommodate gender-confused males also forces needless unrest and privacy infringements on actual women and girls, by forcing them to share showers and changing areas with individuals such as University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, who maintains he has “transitioned” to female yet retains male genitalia and reportedly remains attracted to women.