Republican-Led Iowa Senate Passes Homophobic Bills Aimed At LGBTQ Kids

Photo by Starting Line staff

Following the passage of Gov. Kim Reynolds’ voucher bill, Iowa Republicans in the state house have honed in on homophobic bills that attack LGBTQ Iowans. Two of those bills came one step closer to becoming law on Tuesday.

During a marathon day of debate, the Iowa Senate advanced a bill to deny gender-affirming care for trans and non-binary kids. It also limits those children’s parental rights. The Iowa House will debate the proposal on Wednesday

SF 538 bans 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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No one under 18 is allowed to receive gender-affirming care without parental permission, but this bill would strip that right from families. 

Sen. Jeff Edler (R-State Center), the bill’s sponsor, said this proposal is necessary to address a “public health crisis” although it only restricts the rights of trans children and their families.

Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahsl (D-Coralville) told Edler and other Republicans who support this legislation they will have “blood on their hands” if this bill becomes law.” Wahls also cited the high suicide rate among trans kids, which is even higher for trans kids without access to care. 

“Senator, kids are going to kill themselves because of this law. Children will die if this becomes law,” Wahls said.

During subcommittee and committee hearings leading up to the Senate debate, Iowa medical practitioners spoke out against the bills, as did numerous trans and non-binary children and their families.

Dr. Kaaren Olesen, DO, of Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines said gender-affirming care is a decision that should be between care providers and patients and limited to exam rooms, clinics, and hospitals across Iowa.

“Every medical association supports gender-affirming care,” Olesen said before listing the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Practice and several more associations.

“As an OBGYN, specifically, my governing college supports the use of evidence-based resources and care and information for individuals including adolescents who are accessing gender-affirming care and transition therapy free from political interference.”

The other bill that moved forward was the “bathroom bill,” which prevents trans students from using the bathroom/locker room of the gender they identify with. This bill strips the ability for school districts to implement their own policies to accommodate trans students. This bill is also on the House debate calendar for Wedensday.

It would also overturn a policy in eastern Iowa’s Linn-Mar School District that picked up national attention and became a campaign target for Reynolds and Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District Rep. Ashley Hinson.

Additionally, any Iowan would be allowed to file a complaint with the Iowa Attorney General’s Office for any suspected violation of this bill. 

“This bill empowers random crusaders—Moms for Liberty—to insert themselves and the attorney general in places where their involvement is not warranted,” said Sen. Claire Celsi (D-West Des Moines). “Likes like this cause companies to not consider Iowa as a place to do business.”

Sen. Liz Bennett (D-Cedar Rapids) said Iowa Republicans are trying to be the “potty police.”

“Bills like these literally make the world smaller, more restrictive and more dangerous not just for trans kids but for any kid who might not look how others think a boy or girl should look,” Bennett said.


by Ty Rushing

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