Iowa could be the first state to strip trans people of civil rights

Rep. Jeff Shipley (R-Fairfield) and HF 2082


By Ty Rushing

January 25, 2024

Iowa could become the first state in the country to repeal civil protections for transgender people under a new bill from Rep. Jeff Shipley (R-Fairfield), who has regularly used his office to target trans people’s rights.

Over the years, Iowa Republicans have introduced multiple bills to remove gender identity as a protected class under Iowa’s Civil Rights Act, but none of them ever received a subcommittee meeting until Thursday, when one was scheduled for Shipley’s bill.

HF 2082 would remove gender identity as a protected class, and add a diagnosis for gender dysphoria or gender identity to the disabilities clause of the civil rights code.

Were Shipley’s bill to become law, the only way for a trans person to enjoy the same level of civil protections they benefit from now is by being categorized with a form of mentally illness. 

In a Twitter thread, trans journalist Mira Lazine explained why this is harmful to her community.

“It’s first worth noting that this would remove protections for people who aren’t diagnosed with gender dysphoria, or previously a gender identity disorder under earlier editions of the DSM,” said Lazine, referring to “The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.” “This would risk so many people to discrimination without protection.”

She also said this harms people who are actually diagnosed with gender dysphoria or gender identity disorder, and this creates new legal barriers and makes discrimination cases tougher to prove.

“It also should be noted that this contributes to the harmful idea that being trans is inherently a medical condition,” Lazine said. “Trans people are not inherently disabled, and trans people should not inherently be medicalized!”

According to One Iowa, an LGBTQ advocacy organization, removing gender identity from the Iowa Civil Rights Act strips transgender Iowans of critical anti-discrimination protections in the areas of housing, credit practices, education, employment, and public accommodations.

“Once again, we find ourselves grappling with the disgraceful attempts by Iowa Republicans to strip fundamental rights away from a group of Iowans,” said One Iowa Action Executive Director Courtney Reyes.

“The privilege of navigating daily life without the weight of discrimination might be taken for granted by those who’ve never faced it, but make no mistake. These protections are not just essential but non-negotiable,” she continued.

House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst (D-Windsor Heights) also blasted the legislation and its advancement during a Thursday press conference with Democrat legislative leaders.

“The legislation that Representative Shipley has put forward is hateful, unnecessary, and has huge risks for unintended consequences,” Konfrst said. “As we look at opening Iowa’s Civil Rights code to take away the rights of some Iowans, this is the exact opposite of the spirit of who Iowans are and what Iowans want.”

Shipley has been in the Iowa Legislature since 2019 and introduced his first anti-trans bills in 2020, and has continued to do so in every session since.

In 2022, Shipley made at least 10 references to transgender Iowans having a mental illness and he personally diagnosed them with gender dysphoria at least 11 times during the House debate over a bill to ban trans girls and women from scholastic sports, which went on to become law.

The former sauerkraut salesman/comedian/artist/gardener-turned-IT professional went on a similar anti-trans tangent during a 2023 Moms for Liberty event in Des Moines headlined by Gov. Kim Reynolds.

A hearing on HF 2082 is slated for noon on Wednesday, Jan. 31, in room 102 in the Iowa State Capitol building in Des Moines.


  • Ty Rushing

    Ty Rushing is the Chief Political Correspondent for Iowa Starting Line. He is a trail-blazing veteran Iowa journalist, an Emmy-nominated filmmaker, and co-founder and president of the Iowa Association of Black Journalists. Send tips or story ideas to [email protected] and find him on social media @Rushthewriter.

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