Committee Chair Won't Advance Bill To Remove Gender Identity From Civil Rights Act

Jan 30, 2020

A group of nine Republican lawmakers introduced a bill Wednesday morning that would remove gender identity from the Iowa Civil Rights Act, a move opponents said would eliminate all anti-discrimination protections for transgender Iowans.

But on Wednesday night, a Republican committee chair tweeted that he will not allow the bill to advance.

“I will not advance HF2164,” tweeted Rep. Steven Holt, R-Denison. “The bill is dead.”

Holt chairs the House Judiciary Committee, to which the bill was assigned.

He indicated he would not allow the proposal to have a first hearing in a subcommittee, which means it cannot advance in its current form. But it is almost always possible for proposals that are “dead” to reappear in different forms or different parts of the Statehouse.

The Iowa Legislature added gender identity to the Iowa Civil Rights Act in 2007, and One Iowa lobbyist Keenan Crow said the proposal to remove it is extreme and mean-spirited.

“A transgender person could be denied a car loan because they’re transgender. A landlord could refuse to rent them an apartment because they’re transgender,” Crow said. “They could be fired simply for being transgender, even if they’re doing a great job at their place of employment.”

Rep. Skyler Wheeler, R-Orange City, is one of the bill sponsors. He said the goal was to protect women’s rights.

“I would like to know that there’s not going to be a biological male in the same bathroom as my wife, or when my daughter gets old enough to go to school, that there’s not a biological male in the same locker room as her,” Wheeler said.

He said women in his district have raised concerns about these issues, as well as about “biological males” competing in women’s and girls’ athletic events.

Last year, almost all House and Senate Republicans voted to pass a provision exempting publicly-funded health insurance from covering transition-related surgery for transgender Iowans. That was done by adding language to the Iowa Civil Rights Act.