New House Republicans Bill Limits Parental Rights For LGBTQ Families

Rep. Steve Holt

By Nikoel Hytrek

February 27, 2023

Last week, Iowa House Republicans teased a bill prohibiting gender-affirming health care for anyone under 18, and on Monday HSB214 was filed and assigned to a judiciary subcommittee. Minors cannot receive gender-affirming care without parental consent, but this would prohibit families from even having that option.

The bill would ban puberty blockers and hormone replacement therapy, “if the practice is performed for the purpose of attempting to alter the appearance of, or affirm the minor’s perception of, the minor’s gender or sex, if that appearance or perception is inconsistent with the minor’s sex.”

In other words, the medications are only banned for trans-related health care.

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The bill also prohibits genital surgeries that are not performed on minors, and procedures such as mastectomies, which are rare for underage people. This also only applies to trans-related care.

“The bill also prohibits a healthcare professional from knowingly engaging in conduct that aids or abets the specified prohibited practices.” This would likely ban referrals.

Violations will be considered unprofessional conduct and would result in discipline by the provider’s board.

This ban ignores the guidance and advice set out by all major American medical institutions and is another assault on the rights of trans people and their parents to make choices about their lives. It will likely also force those who are already using this medication to stop and detransition.

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Multiple studies, for years, have shown that gender-affirming care leads to better mental health and lack of access can lead to higher rates of suicides, depression and self-harm.

The subcommittee for the bill hasn’t been scheduled yet, but it will include Reps. Steve Holt (R-Denison)—who introduced the bill—Skyler Wheeler (R-Hull) and Ross Wilburn (D-Ames).

On Thursday, doctors Katie Imborek, co-director of the University of Iowa LGBTQ+ Clinic, and Dave Williams, chief medical officer for UnityPoint Health spent over an hour answering questions and correcting misinformation about gender-affirming care and the long, methodical process patients and their parents take.

The two doctors informed the committee that patients undergo counseling and have time to fully consider their choices. Imborek also clarified that most patients don’t detransition, and those who do, do it but because external forces such as discrimination made transitioning not worth it.

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If the bill becomes law, Iowa would join South Dakota, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, and Utah. Federal judges have temporarily blocked similar bans in Alabama and Arkansas.

The proposed bill echoes language of those other bills, including allowing people to “assert an actual or threatened violation of the bill” and possibly receive damages up to 20 years after the patient turns 18.

Iowa Republicans have also introduced bills that would force schools to out students to their parents, ban instruction about gender identity and sexual orientation, and prohibit schools from disciplining students or staff who misgender trans or nonbinary students. Last year, Republicans banned trans girls from playing sports on girls’ teams.

One Iowa Action, an LGTBQ advocacy organization, is tracking more than 20 anti-LGBTQ bills in Iowa this legislative session.


Nikoel Hytrek

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  • Nikoel Hytrek

    Nikoel Hytrek is Iowa Starting Line’s longest-serving reporter. She covers LGBTQ issues, abortion rights and all topics of interest to Iowans. Her biggest goal is to help connect the dots between policy and people’s real lives. If you have story ideas or tips, send them over to [email protected].

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