Bill to Remove Gender Identity Protections in Civil Rights Law Killed, Leading to Iowan Outcry and Celebration

DES MOINES, Iowa – Lawmakers in Iowa made a significant decision to kill a bill that would have removed gender identity protections from the state’s civil rights law. The announcement was met with cheers and the waving of rainbow pride flags by Iowans in the Capitol hallway.

The bill, known as House File 2082, would have removed gender identity protections from the Iowa Civil Rights Act and would have added gender dysphoria “or any condition related to a gender identity disorder” to the definition of a disability that would be protected under the law.

Iowa Democrats had added the protections for gender identity in 2007, when they held the Iowa Legislature and governor’s office. The Iowa Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, ancestry, disability, and gender identity, protecting individuals from discrimination in various areas of public life.

The bill’s failure was celebrated by LGBTQ rights groups, with one group’s executive director, Courtney Reyes of One Iowa, stating, “We appreciate the lawmakers who stood against this discriminatory proposal, recognizing the inherent value of safeguarding transgender folks from discrimination in their daily lives.”

The decision came after hundreds of LGBTQ Iowans and their allies packed the Capitol hallways to protest the bill, some draped in transgender flags or wearing shirts with messages against legislating hate. The atmosphere was filled with excitement as the crowd broke into chants of “We will never go back!” upon hearing the news of the bill’s failure to advance.

During an emotional hourlong meeting, Iowans testified to lawmakers about the bill’s impact, with chants of “trans rights are human rights!” echoing off the marble walls. Some expressed fears of being denied housing, loans, or the right to shop in certain stores if the bill had passed. Others emphasized the importance of recognizing gender identity as a part of human rights and dignity.