While speaking at an Iowa Senate subcommittee hearing on a proposed “bathroom bill” on Tuesday, Aime Wichtendahl of Hiawatha took aim at all of the anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ bills Iowa Republicans lawmakers have been honed in on this session.
“I’ve come here to voice my opposition to this bill and that this could cause more hardship for trans students, an increase in bullying, anxiety, and depression, and cause other problems such as bladder and urinary track infections, but I also know that you don’t care,” she said.
Wichtendahl, who is a trans woman and member of the Hiawatha City Council, said Iowa Republicans are supposed to be the party of small government, but instead of focusing on issues like raising wages, lowering grocery prices, bringing down the cost of childcare or funding rural education, they are attacking trans people and selling out the state to monied interests.
“You truly hate us with every fiber of your being,” she said. “You’ve heard the testimonies from the trans community and how it puts their lives at risk and you only report more heinous bills. I think you all hope that we will die in the gutter somewhere.”
The Iowa Legislature held two subcommittee hearings Tuesday about bills to ban trans and nonbinary students from using bathrooms that match their identities, and in many cases that they have used for years.
“I think you are confused about what happens in the second-grade bathrooms,” said Lily, a 7-year-old trans girl from Ankeny. “No one is hurting each other in there. I’m not hurting anyone there. We just go to the bathroom and wash our hands. That’s how easy it is.”
She told the House subcommittee she’s been using the girls’ restroom for years and if she were to walk into a boys’ restroom wearing a dress, she would only be harassed, and likely kicked out by the boys.
“Banning me from the bathroom I have already been using for years would be so humiliating and make more bullies come after me,” she said.
The bills allow for students to request accommodations to use single-occupancy or employee bathrooms. Lily said the nurse’s bathroom is across the school from her and she’d miss time between classes or during lunch to get there.
Becky Tayler, executive director of Iowa Safe Schools, said trans students using restrooms that match their gender identities hasn’t been a problem in Iowa in the 15 years it’s been allowed.
“In this time, not once has there been an accusation of inappropriate conduct,” she said. “If this is still a concern, I’m happy to inform folks that in this subcommittee that there is already legal precedent for anyone entering a facility to harass, harm or invade personal privacy of an individual.”
Tayler also said separate facilities are inherently unequal, as ruled by the Supreme Court in Brown v Board of Education.
“I’m really disappointed that I have to keep coming up and asking subcommittee members to support basic human dignity. But on behalf of our students, I ask that you please reject this bill, reject this legislation,” she said.
The people who spoke in favor of the bill were largely parents who said they were worried about predators exploiting the law to prey on children and that their children all said they’d be uncomfortable with a trans student using the same restroom.
One supporter of the bill who participated remotely was Roger George, president of the Albia School Board. George said he reached out to Sen. Cherielynn Westrich (R-Ottumwa) to seek out a legislative solution because he was uncomfortable with the idea of trans girls using the same facilities as cis girls. Westrich said she wrote and introduced the Iowa Senate’s version of the bill based on that conversation.
“With this bill, just like we protected girls’ sports—we protected our girls from competing against males—and we’re going to go ahead and protect our girls again,” she said.
By Ty Rushing and Nikeol Hyrek
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1 Comment on "Trans Iowan To Republican Lawmakers: ‘You Truly Hate Us’"
“I think you all hope that we will die in the gutter somewhere.”
I believe that Wichtendahl is 100% correct.
This isn’t legislation. It IS instutitionalized hate.