A bill that prohibits healthcare professionals from knowingly performing sex-change procedures on minors passed the Iowa Senate on Tuesday night on a 33-16 party-line vote.
Every Iowa Senate Democrat voted to continue allowing kids to be carved up while every Iowa Senate Republican voted to wait for sex-change treatments to start until 18 years old in almost every circumstance.
Republican Sen. Jeff Edler floor managed the bill, saying every child deserves an actual childhood.
“One that allows them to experience puberty and other natural changes that shape who they will become,” he said. “Iowa has a duty to uphold the public health, safety and well-being of its citizens.”
Edler pointed to the fact Iowa has laws keeping minors from all sorts of things — such as purchasing alcohol or tobacco, receiving a tattoo, gambling and medical cannabidiol.
“If a child lacks the maturity to enter into a contract or to even vote, to get a tattoo, how can they be mature enough to consent to experimental, irreversible procedures that may lead to permanent sterilization,” Edler asked.
Democrat State Sen. Zach Wahls pointed out that gender identity is a protected class in Iowa and expressed confusion over what will happen to patients who have already started treatments.
He said the “single greatest threat” to a transgender kid in Iowa is rejection by their family or community, which he said is why more than 40 percent of transgender kids in Iowa have suicidal ideation.
“Suicide is a much worse outcome than any of the concerns that (Sen. Edler) might have,” Wahls said.
Wahls claimed that studies show sex-change care reduces suicide attempts by 73 percent. He said he’s received emails from parents of transgender kids who are “really scared” about what the law will do to their kid.
“Senator, kids are going to kill themselves because of this law,” Wahls claimed. “Iowa children will die if this becomes law. That’s what will happen.”
Wahls closed by stating there will be blood on the hands of those who support the legislation.
Democrat State Sen. Janice Weiner compared the bill protecting children from sex-change treatments and surgeries to racism at the water fountain. She said it was never about “protecting women’s sports” just like it was never about water fountains and public pools.
“We are all human beings,” Weiner said. “We are all, every single one of us in all our diversity, made in the image of God.”
Democrat State Sen. Pam Jochum attempted to compare parental rights and choice in where a child goes to school to parental rights and choice in deciding whether to turn a boy into a girl or vice versa.
“Is parental choice only a choice when it fits into a specific ideology,” she asked. “Is that what this is about? It’s only good enough when you look like me, when you think like me, but if you don’t then it’s OK to discriminate?”
Democrat State Sen. Janet Petersen said the bill bans “life-saving, medically necessary” sex-change care. She too equated a parent’s choice about which school to attend to a parent’s choice about turning a boy into a girl or vice versa.
Edler said in his closing that the issue isn’t complicated — children shouldn’t be pushed to receive “experimental, medical treatments” that can leave them “permanently sterile and physically marred for life.”
“Iowa has a duty to protect its citizens, especially our children,” he said. “Children are unable to comprehend and fully appreciate the risks and life implications.”
He pointed to several evidence-based studies that show the long-term negative impact on adults who receive these types of procedures. Studies shared during debate only showed short-term positive effects without detailing the long-term implications of these procedures on minors.
In 2016, President Barack Obama’s CMS declined to issue a national coverage determination for sex-change surgery for Medicare beneficiaries with gender dysphoria.
Edler said patients from 6-10 years old in Iowa are receiving hormone therapy. He said in one case, a female received a top surgery. The University of Iowa Health Clinic said over the past year they’ve provided sex-change procedures to 211 patients under 18. Five received mastectomies, 43 received puberty-blocking medications and 90 received cross-sex hormones.
“These experimental procedures push vulnerable children down a one-way street that leads to permanent sterility and a lifetime of medical intervention,” Edler said. “The state has the right and should utilize its authority to regulate these practices based solely on these reasons. This is a public health matter and it should be regulated under Iowa law.”