Iowa Legislature passes bill to restrict gender-affirming health care for minors

After the Iowa Senate passed Senate File 538, that would ban gender-affirming care for minors, the Iowa house passed the senate version, 58-39, on Wednesday afternoon.


Jerod Ringwald

The Iowa House convenes during the first day of the 90th Iowa General Assembly at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines on Monday, Jan. 9, 2023.

Emily Delgado, Politics Reporter

The Iowa House passed a bill, 58-39, restricting access for transgender youth to seek gender-affirming care in the state on Wednesday afternoon. The bill, Senate File 538,  now heads to the governor’s desk where Gov. Kim Reynolds is expected to sign the bill into law this week. 

Sen. Jeff Edler, R-State Center sponsored SF 538 said the bill is not a matter of civil rights, rather, it is a public health concern.

During debate for SF 538, Edler, who was the floor manager of the bill, mentioned a study concerning the effects of hormonal gender-affirming care on minors. The study was conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

“Overall, hormonal treatments for transgender youth were observed to be relatively safe but not without potential adverse effects.” Edler said in the debate on Tuesday night. 

In countrering Edler’s comments, Senate Democrats cited studies concerning the number of suicides in trans youth. 

“Kids are going to kill themselves because of this law. Iowa children will die if this becomes law…there will be blood on your hands,” Sen. Zach Wahls, D-Coralville, said. 

Another anti-LGBTQ+ piece of legislation that advanced this week was Senate File 482 If passed by the house, the bill would ban transgender youth from using bathrooms that align with their gender identity. 

“To trans Iowans, to gay Iowans to Iowans who love someone in the LGBTQ+ community: you belong,” Rep. Adam Zabner, D-Iowa City tweeted on Wednesday shortly after the Senate passed the bill on a party line vote, 33-16, Democrats opposed. 

The Republican defense for SF 482 is the bill will aim to protect the privacy of children in bathrooms. Sen. Liz Bennett, D-Cedar Rapids , explains the bill is not a concern about privacy but rather an effort to instill fear. 

“Bills like these continue a line of efforts to use fear and violence to force people into gender roles assigned by society,” Bennett said. 

Prior to both bills being passed by the Senate on March 1, Iowa high school students across the state walked out during the school day to protest these two bills and other anti-LGBTQ bills that were introduced in the Iowa Legislature. SF 538 and SF 482 were one of seven anti-LGBTQ bills that survived “funnel week,” which is an important legislative deadline halfway through the session.  

Over the course of the session, 29 different anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced by Republicans in the Iowa House and Senate.