GOP lawmaker files bill to remove transgender discrimination protections from state law

Transgender flag being waved in a crowd
Photo: Shutterstock

Republican lawmakers in Iowa now want to remove transgender people from the state’s civil rights law.

H.F. 2082, filed by state Rep. Steven Holt (R), would remove gender identity as a protected class from the Iowa Civil Rights Act. That law has banned discrimination in the areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity since 2007. Holt’s bill would add gender dysphoria “or any condition related to a gender identity disorder” to the definition of “disability,” which is protected under the law.

“I think there’s plenty of other places in federal and in state law that would prevent discrimination,” Holt said, “Because I think we should all be opposed to discrimination based upon someone’s skin color or gender identity or whatever the case may be.”

But despite his feelings, federal civil rights laws do not explicitly include gender identity protections. The few anti-discrimination protections that exist for gender identity at the federal level are the result of the 2020 Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton Co. The decision declared that discrimination against gender identity is essentially a type of sex-based discrimination.

LGBTQ+ advocates said that his bill wouldn’t add any protections and would actually take away protections from transgender people who can’t afford health care or who haven’t gotten a diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

“Now they don’t have any housing protections and a landlord can literally just say, ‘No, I don’t want you in my space, you’re transgender,'” Keenan Crow of One Iowa told the Des Moines Register. “And there’s nothing that that person can do about it. So this is an extremely dangerous, extremely harmful bill.”

Holt said that he isn’t sure he wants the bill to pass, but he wants a hearing about it.

“I just want to hear a conversation about it,” he said. “I want to have a subcommittee and hear a conversation about it.”

Crow countered that opening a conversation about civil rights law without any need to can be harmful.

“Whenever you have somebody who’s willing to have a conversation about removing the civil rights of an entire class of people, that’s not a good conversation to be having,” they said. “Those rights should not be up for debate. Transgender people should be able to rent houses, get credit cards, get loans, go buy a sandwich, rent a hotel room, just like anybody else should be able to.”

Iowa passed several anti-transgender laws last year, including a ban on gender-affirming care for transgender minors, a ban on trans people using the correct public restrooms, and a law that requires teachers to out trans students to their parents.

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