A proposed bill that would have removed gender identity protections from the Iowa Civil Rights Act will not advance in the state legislature. Rep. Steven Holt, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, called the bill “dead” after deciding not to send it into subcommittee.
Iowa law has prohibited discrimination based on gender identity since 2007, making it one of 20 states to prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in employment, housing, and public accommodations. The Iowa Civil Rights Act also bans discrimination based on race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, ancestry, and disability.
Civil rights and LGBTQ+ rights groups immediately criticized the bill when it was introduced.
“A transgender person could be denied a car loan because they’re transgender,” said Keenan Crow, a lobbyist for LGBTQ+ advocacy group One Iowa. “A landlord could refuse to rent them an apartment because they’re transgender. They could be fired simply for being transgender, even if they’re doing a great job at their place of employment.”
“Discriminating against transgender people — or any Iowans — will not make them, or us, go away or stop being who they are,” said Mark Stringer, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa.
Sponsors of the bill claimed its goal was to protect women’s rights, a familiar argument that has come up in defenses of the “bathroom bills” that seek to ban transgender people from using the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity.
This latest attack on transgender people is just one manifestation of persisting anti-transgender prejudice in the US, prejudice which has far-reaching and deadly consequences. According to the Human Rights Campaign, at least 25 transgender Americans were murdered in 2019, and one transgender man, Dustin Parker, has already been killed in 2020. Anti-transgender violence disproportionately impacts black transgender women.
Sources: Des Moines Register 1/29/20; KCCI Des Moines 1/29/20; Radio Iowa 1/29/20; Human Rights Campaign