LGBT advocates: GOP bill would strip rights from transgender Iowans

By: - January 29, 2020 12:05 pm
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Now is the time to codify protections for LGBTQ people in federal law. (Photo by Getty Images)

Update: Iowa Rep. Steven Holt, R-Denison, tweeted Wednesday evening that he is not moving the gender identity bill forward.

Holt is the chair of the Iowa House Judiciary Committee.


A new bill supported by a group of Iowa House Republicans aims to remove “gender identity,” from the Iowa Civil Rights Act — a move LGBT advocates say would remove protections for transgender Iowans.

The Iowa Civil Rights Act protects people from discrimination in the workplace, housing, public accomodations, education and credit practices. Protected classes include race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disabilities and gender identity.

House File 2164 strikes out gender identity from the act. Under Iowa law, gender identity is defined as the “identity of a person, regardless of the person’s assigned sex at birth.” While Iowa law does not define sex, it is acknowledged as typically either male or female based on a person’s genetalia and reproductive functions, according to the Oxford Dictionary.

Rep. Terry Baxter, R-Garner, is one of the nine Republicans who are co-sponsoring the bill, which was introduced on Wednesday.

Baxter said he does not view the bill as removing protections for transgender Iowans. He said he is supporting it because he believes including gender identity is “redundant.”

“From my standpoint, everything’s already covered, so I don’t see it removes anything that way,” Baxter said. “I just concluded this is a redundancy.”

Another Republican co-sponsor, Rep. Phil Thompson of Jefferson, said he disagreed with the Iowa Supreme Court’s ruling last year that allowed transgender Iowans to receive Medicaid coverage for transition-related surgeries and other care. 

“I think that as stretched-out as our Medicaid dollars are, I think we really need to think about what we’re using those Medicaid dollars for,” he said.  He added he sees no other way to address the issue of Medicaid payments for transition surgeries in light of the court ruling.

But the bill would leave transgender Iowans without protections from discrimination, according to One Iowa Action, an LGBT advocacy organization.

“Transgender Iowans deserve to be protected against discrimination and most legislators know that, which is why the Iowa Legislature established such protections in a bipartisan vote well over a decade ago,” Courtney Reyes, director of One Iowa Action, said in a news release. “We urge the Iowa legislature to focus on keeping Iowa a premiere destination for residents and visitors alike. These bills do not accomplish that goal and will be an impediment to Iowa businesses attracting, recruiting, and retaining the top talent needed for our state to succeed.”

Kathie Obradovich contributed to this report

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