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Governor signs transgender medical care, bathroom use bills into law


Governor signs transgender medical care, bathroom use bills into law

Mar 22, 2023 | 8:18 pm ET
By Robin Opsahl
Governor signs transgender medical care, bathroom use bills into law
At a May 5, 2021, press conference, Gov. Kim Reynolds discussed her effort to restrict the participation of transgender children in school sports. (Screenshot via Iowa PBS)

Transgender youth can no longer receive gender-affirming care or use school bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity under laws signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds.

The governor signed 10 bills into law Wednesday, including a ban on gender-affirming care for minors and a requirement that people can only use school bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender assigned at birth. Both bills were protested by LGBTQ advocates and allies as well as K-12 students as lawmakers debated the measures.

With the signing of Senate File 538, health care providers have 180 days to cease providing gender-related medical treatment to transgender youth. Health care professionals are still allowed to refer their patients to providers in other states who can offer these prohibited treatments for gender dysphoria.

Reynolds told reporters Tuesday the gender-related health care ban was necessary for minors because there has not been sufficient long-term research conducted of the impacts of childhood medical care conducted in the United States. She cited research and government restrictions on procedures banned like puberty blockers, hormone replacement therapy and surgical interventions in countries like Sweden when calling for a “pause” on allowing the care.

“This is an extremely uncomfortable position for me to be in,” Reynolds said Tuesday. “I don’t like it. But I have to do what I believe right now is in the best interest of the kids.”

Lawmakers and advocates supporting the school bathroom law said the measure was necessary to keep kids — especially girls — safe from sexual assault by people who say they’re transgender to gain access to women’s restrooms. Senate File 482 does allow schools to make accommodations for students, with permission from their parents, to use alternate, single-occupant facilities.

The Iowa State Education Association released a statement following the bill signings, criticizing the measures and saying the organization will continue to fight for the rights of all Iowa students.

“To our students,” ISEA President Mike Beranek said in a news release. “We support you. We respect you. We care for you. We will fight to ensure you are safe, healthy, happy, and learning. We stand with all our students today, tomorrow, and always.”

Other LGBTQ, education and health care advocates spoke out against the bill signings Wednesday. In a news release, Iowa Safe Schools wrote that the bathroom use law violate the Iowa and federal Civil Rights Acts as well as federal Title IX protection. Reynolds said she expects to see a court challenge on the two gender-related laws, as similar measures have seen lawsuits in other states.

“By signing these bills, the Governor has shown that she doesn’t actually care about parental rights,” said Becky Tayler, executive director for Iowa Safe Schools, said in a news release. “The parental rights LGBTQ families have been sidelined for the sake of the Governor’s ill-fated power trip to national office. The Governor’s legacy will be forever tainted by the day she signed away parental rights and put children’s lives directly at risk.“