The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowans speak on bill to define ‘man’ and ‘woman’ in Iowa code

A public hearing on the bill drew a boisterous crowd to the capitol.
Ayrton Breckenridge
Lawmakers sit in the house chamber during the first day of the 2024 Iowa legislative session at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024.

Chanting from a raucous, boisterous crowd of protestors filled the Iowa Capitol on Monday as LGBTQ+ Iowans protested a bill that would define “man” and “woman” in Iowa code and require changes to birth certificates. 

Iowa House lawmakers held a public hearing on Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’s proposal to change how the state addresses gender identity. The bill would define “man” and “woman” based on the sex assigned at birth and require the birth certificates of transgender Iowans to denote their pre- and post-transition sexes. 

The bill, House File 2389, was amended during an Iowa House Education Committee meeting to remove provisions that required the same identifications on driver’s licenses. 

In a news release last week, Reynolds said her bill was “common sense” and compared the bill to a 2022 law that banned transgender women from participating in girls’ sports. 

Iowa Rep. Skyler Wheeler, R-Orange City, who chairs the House Education Committee and chaired the public hearing on Monday, stopped the hearing several times due to excessive noise from protestors outside the committee room. 

Over 100 Iowans signed up to speak at the hearing on Monday, but only 24 were able to voice their opinion during the hour-long hearing, with two minutes allotted per speaker. 

Supporters of the bill emphasized the bill’s definition of “man” and “woman” which uses biological processes to define the two terms. In the bill, a female is defined as, “a person whose biological reproductive system is developed to produce ova,” and a male as, “a person whose biological reproductive system is developed to fertilize the ova of a female.”

Denise Bubeck, a lobbyist and member of The Family Leader, said it is time to “codify biology” and “protect women’s spaces.” 

“Right now, females are losing safe spaces while biological men are gaining access into sororities, women’s prisons, domestic violence shelters, and rape centers,” Bubeck said. “Women and girls who speak the truth and biological differences of male and female are getting silenced and canceled. This must stop.”

Keenan Crow, a lobbyist with One Iowa, an LGBTQ+ advocacy organization, said organizations that work with women every day in domestic violence shelters and rape crisis centers are against the bill. The Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault are registered against the bill. 

Similar bills to the governor’s proposed legislation have been passed in Republican-led states, including Florida. 

Crow said defining “man” and “woman” in part of state law that deals with the creation of statutes could have unintended consequences on other parts of Iowa law. 

“Iowans will suffer for something that sounds good, but ultimately does not work,” Crow said. “The fact of the matter is this is not a simple bill. It’s an incredibly complex bill, and the way it shoehorns itself into Iowa code makes it even more difficult to understand what will ultimately happen.” 

Amber Williams, a supporter of the bill, said the bill is important to protect children’s innocence from “new gender ideologies.” 

“I ask you to protect our children by passing this bill, especially our girls. We as women should not have to share our safe spaces with a man,” Williams said. “This not only violates our privacy but also places our safety at risk.” 

Max Mowitz, with One Iowa, said the bill is part of a trend of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. Last year, 29 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were introduced in the Iowa Legislature. Four were signed into law, according to an anti-LGBTQ+ law tracker by One Iowa. 

“Being an Iowan is just as important to me as being trans; this is my state too,” Mowitz said. “Every time I come to this Capitol, I am reminded of how much I love a state that does not love me back. I want people to live here, raise their families here, and make the state better.”

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About the Contributors
Liam Halawith
Liam Halawith, Politics Editor
Liam Halawith is a third-year student at the University of Iowa studying Journalism and Mass Communication and minoring in Public Policy. Before his role as Politics Editor Liam was a politics reporter for the DI. Outside of the DI Liam has interned at the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Southeast Iowa Union. This is his second year working for the DI.
Ayrton Breckenridge
Ayrton Breckenridge, Managing Visuals Editor
Ayrton Breckenridge is the Managing Visuals Editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and cinema. This is his fourth year working for the DI.