The Iowa legislature has before it House File 2164, which would exempt entities from the state’s Civil Rights law, in particular with restroom access. As usual, they’re trotting out the same tired old trope about protecting women and girls. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Sandy Salmon, was quoted in the Des Moines Register as saying, ““What the bill just says is that schools and businesses are allowed to take action to protect women and girls by preserving access (to toilet facilities and locker rooms) based on biological sex.”
It also cleverly removes the requirement that religiously-motivated discrimination be actually based on a “bona-fide religious purpose,” lowering the bar substantially for the permissiveness of discriminatory behavior that is driven by “religious purposes.”
As usual, this law is based on a fantasy, a complete fabrication. A slanderous, scandalous lie, the trope that says that I and my transwoman sisters are predators. We aren’t, and no amount of posturing from Republicans will ever make us so.
Aime Wichtendahl, a city council member in Hiawatha who is serving as the state’s first openly transgender lawmaker, unpacks this for us in plain English:
“This is an answer in search of a problem…The gender identity protection in the Civil Rights Act has been included for more than a decade. Has there been a problem of people harassing women in the bathrooms since then? No. This is simply a tactic of the extreme right who will use any excuse they can to harass and intimidate us out of public life.”
“Equality” organizations like HRC Iowa and One Iowa have been slow to respond; the bill was filed January 31st, and as of Sunday night (February 4), neither has anything on their websites about this awful bill. As usual, they will likely trot out the same tired argument about such discriminatory legislation being “bad for business.” While true, this argument is not compelling to much of anyone, certainly not to rank-and-file voters. If the bill fails, as happened in Texas, the “equality” orgs will take credit and crow about how their argument worked. If it fails (North Carolina), they’ll crawl back under their rocks and not fight all that hard, looking for “incremental progress going forward.”
When will they step up and use the true and more-compelling argument that goes thusly: “Iowans, your legislators, the sponsors of this bill, are lying to you. They are telling a bald-faced untruth about your fellow Iowans, people who deserve just as much dignity and respect as you do. That thing they tell you to be afraid of? It’s never happened, ever, anywhere. They’re lying to you. And you shouldn’t let them do that to your neighbors, just because they’re different from you.”
But maybe I’m expecting too much of HRC Iowa and One Iowa.
They, like other “equality” organizations all pay lip service to supporting transfolk, but when push comes to shove, like all lobbying organizations, they are here to support the needs of the people who write their largest checks–mostly, white gay men. Transgender people, being subjected to a much larger threat of unemployment and poverty through discrimination, aren’t the ones who can afford to support these organizations, by and large, so our voices simply are not heard as much as they should be.
…and the lies continue to come out of Republican legislatures all over the land.