The transgender flag
Photo Credit: torbackhopper via Flickr (CC-By-2.0)

***Updated***

DES MOINES, Iowa – A bill introduced on Wednesday, if passed into law, would remove “gender identity” as a protected class under Iowa’s Civil Rights Act.

Not even a day old, it is already considered dead.

“Gender identity” and “sexual orientation” were added to a list of protected classes in Iowa’s Civil Rights Act in 2007 that bans discrimination in employment, wages, housing, public accommodations, education, and credit practices. The law also prohibits discrimination due to race, creed, color, sex, national origin, religion, ancestry, or disability. 

State Rep. Dean Fisher, R-Montour, introduced the bill, HF 2164, and it was referred to the Iowa House Judiciary Committee.

Fisher pointed to problems with biological males identifying as female and then competing in women’s sports opening up the possibility of injuries, as well as potentially hurting female athletes’ opportunities for scholarships. 

“I am concerned about fairness and safety in women’s sports,” Fisher told Caffeinated Thoughts. “Biological men’s inclusion in women’s athletics can be damaging to women.”

He also pointed out the Iowa Supreme Court ruled the state, through Medicaid, had to pay for gender identity transition treatments, which the Iowa Legislature addressed by defunding Medicaid dollars for transgender surgeries

Fisher also noted there are still issues within the Iowa Department of Corrections as far as where to assign prisoners that also leads to safety concerns.

He pointed out safety and privacy concerns for girls at school when biological men who identify as women are allowed to use girls’ bathrooms and locker rooms. He cited a walkout last April by twenty girls at Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln High School, who opposed a biological male seeking to use the women’s bathroom at that school. 

“At the end of the day, this is really about fairness, common sense, and biology,” Fisher said.

The bill has eight additional co-sponsors. State Reps. Anne Osmundson, R-Volga, Terry Baxter, R-Garner, Tedd Gassman, R-Scarville, Thomas Gerhold, R-Atkins, Phil Thompson, R-Jefferson, Tom Jeneary, R-Le Mars, Skyler Wheeler, R-Orange City, and Sandy Salmon, R-Janesville, signed on in support of the bill. 

Currently, Planned Parenthood, AFSCME Iowa Council 61, Principal Financial Group, Iowa State Education Association, ACLU of Iowa, Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, One Iowa, and Iowa Safe Schools oppose the bill. 

The FAMiLY Leader registered in support of the bill.

“Creating protected classes based on internal ‘identification’ rather than biological reality has already done tangible harm, particularly to female athletes and at-risk women,” Drew Zahn, communications director for The FAMiLY Leader, told Caffeinated Thoughts.

“Social services, for example, have been compelled to accommodate men in facilities designed to protect women, such as a homeless shelter in Alaska that was forced to allow men to sleep in the same room as vulnerable women who were victims of sex trafficking,” he added.

“And in dozens of examples from across the country, women athletes, some just high school girls, have suffered physical injuries or lost out on college scholarships after being forced into competition with males who ‘identify’ as female but maintained the unfair advantage that is natural to males,” Zahn said.

State Rep. Steve Holt, R-Denison, the Iowa House Judiciary Committee Chair, told Caffeinated Thoughts on Wednesday evening that the legislature has to take time understand what the unintended consequences of this bill might be.

“For some people this could be construed as green-lighting some type of violence and we certainly don’t want to see that,” he said. “Consequences that I’m sure Representative Fisher doesn’t intend as well. So we have to do a lot of research on this and consider what some of the alternatives might be to address some of the concerns he has.”

“I have no intention of forwarding any legislation that would strip gender identity as a protected class in Iowa Code,” Holt added.

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