News (USA)

New Iowa laws ban health care for trans youth & force them to use incorrect bathrooms

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R), transgender youth, gender-affirming care, bathroom bill, school, queer, LGBTQ
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) Photo: Shutterstock

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) has signed a ban on gender-affirming care for minors. So far, seven other states have also banned such care. Reynolds has also signed a transphobic school bathroom bill into law.

The healthcare ban (SF 538) — which went into effect immediately after Reynolds signed it into law on Wednesday — bans healthcare professionals from providing any medical treatment that attempts “to alter the appearance of, or affirm the minor’s perception of” a gender other than that that the minor was assigned at birth.

The law forbids the use of puberty blockers, hormone replacement therapy, and surgeries that already aren’t conducted on minors. As such, the law will force trans teens currently receiving gender-affirming care to de-transition. Studies suggest that de-transitioning increases a trans person’s mental distress and suicidality.

The law provides exceptions for the treatment of some intersex individuals and those who receive the banned care for non-trans-related reasons. However, medical professionals who provide such trans-related care can be sued up to 20 years later and also possibly lose their medical licensing.

The bill’s author, state Rep. Steven Holt (R), said that the methods of gender-affirming care are too “experimental,” even though they are backed by years of research and endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and other major health authorities.

On Wednesday, Gov. Reynolds also signed SF 482, a law that prohibits people from using school bathrooms that don’t correspond with the gender that a person was assigned at birth.

Criticizing Iowa’s ban on gender-affirming care, state Rep. Jennifer Konfrst (D) said, according to CNN, “I was under the impression that this session was going to be all about parents’ rights. So I guess the way I’m going to read this bill is that parents know best until the government does.”

Similar bans have been passed by Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee and Utah. However, Alabama and Arkansas’ bans have been blocked for now by federal courts. But a new law passed in Arkansas attempts to get around the injunction by making it much easier for people who received gender-affirming care to sue medical practitioners for malpractice. Legal experts expect the law will make it impossible for doctors to get malpractice insurance if they practice gender-affirming care in the state.

“Bans on best-practice medical care represent one of the most extreme and coordinated political attacks on transgender people in recent years,” the Movement Advancement Project wrote, adding that such bills “display a fundamental lack of understanding of transgender children.”

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