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

Transgender community members, supporters demand action from IC City Council

Several speakers at an Iowa City City Council meeting stated they would like to see Iowa City become a “sanctuary city” for transgender individuals.
Ethan McLaughlin
Iowa City Council members listen to a statement from a community member during an Iowa City Council meeting on Tuesday, March 19, 2024.

Local transgender individuals and allies packed the Iowa City City Council chambers Tuesday night to demand action, support, and policy changes to the city government. 

Around 20 community members spoke during public comment and dozens more residents filled all the seats in the council chambers. More attendees spilled out of the chambers and stood in the lobby.

A common theme among the speakers was feeling unsafe in the state of Iowa in light of recent state legislation, including Iowa’s “bathroom bill” and changes to gender-affirming health care.

Several speakers voiced they would like to see Iowa City become a sanctuary city. This means the city would pass policies stating they would not enforce such legislation in Iowa City and would not criminally charge those who go against such legislation, such as doctors who still choose to provide gender-affirming care.

Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill in 2018 that would revoke state funding from cities that violated federal immigration law, thus acting as a sanctuary city. This bill was created in response to a policy passed by Iowa City and others like it that stated it would not commit resources to the enforcement of federal immigration laws.

Many speakers also mentioned the arrest of seven protestors at an event at the University of Iowa’s Iowa Memorial Union in October and how they would like to see some of Iowa City’s police budget funding be reallocated to affordable, equitable housing. 

All seven charged protestors identify as transgender or nonbinary. One of the protestors, Tara McGovern, was recently acquitted of their charges related to this arrest which occurred nearly a month after the protest. McGovern’s legal last name is Dutcher, but they go by McGovern.

McGovern was present at the city council meeting but did not speak during public comment.

Emma Denney, a transgender Iowa City resident and one of the protesters charged at the IMU protest, said the council needs to do more to actively support this vulnerable community.

“We constantly hear messages about how we’re such an important part of this diverse community; we heard as much today,” Denney said. “But in this climate of hostility and violence, we need real and profound action.”

At the beginning of the meeting, the council presented a proclamation recognizing Transgender Day of Visibility, which is on March 31. This proclamation recognized the state’s recent legislation surrounding transgender individuals and shared the city’s support for the transgender community.

Lucket Kiche, a teacher at Grant Wood Elementary School, and Doug Kollasch, the city’s Human Rights Commission chair, accepted the proclamation from the city council. 

After accepting the proclamation, Kiche mentioned several statistics related to homicide rates in the transgender community, especially transgender people of color. 

According to a 2023 report from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, at least 33 transgender and gender non-conforning individuals were killed in the U.S. between November 2022 and November 2023. The report also states that Black transgender women make up the majority of these homicides.

Kollasch said Iowa City must take steps to protect its transgender community members from hate speech and discrimination.

“This year on Transgender Day of Visibility — and as I proudly accept this proclamation — I say to our transgender siblings, friends, and neighbors: We see you, we hear you, and we stand with you in this struggle because trans rights are human rights,” Kollasch said.

Each speaker was met with raucous applause, cheers, and snaps in agreement after making their comment. No city councilors made any comments to the speakers as councilors customarily do not engage with speakers during public comment.

Once the public comment session concluded, the vast majority of the speakers in the council chambers filed out of the room shouting “No justice, no peace.”

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About the Contributor
Isabelle Foland
Isabelle Foland, News Editor
Isabelle Foland is a second-year student at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication and minoring in Spanish. She is a second-year news reporter at The Daily Iowan, reporting mainly on Iowa City City Council. She is from Missouri Valley, Iowa and has reported for her hometown paper prior to her time at The DI.