House sends governor bill that would ban transgender meds, procedures for minors

DES MOINES — After a nearly two and a half hour debate, the Iowa House has given final approval to a bill that would ban Iowa doctors and therapists from providing gender transition care to minors. All Senate Republicans voted for the bill Tuesday night and on Wednesday, 58 of the 64 Republicans in the House backed it.

Republican Representative Steven Holt of Denison says there are grave doubts about having children undergo these life-altering procedures.   “There are few studies that track children who have these procedures into adulthood and the ones that do are not positive,” Holt says, “supporting the conclusion that the efficacy of these therapies is far from proven.”

Holt says children are unable to give informed consent to these kind of procedures.  “We know that judgment does not fully develop until age 25,” Holt says. “We also know these kids are struggling. They are vulnerable, as are their parents who would do anything to help their child.”

Representative Jeff Shipley of Fairfield, a Republican who voted for the bill, says the expectation should be health not harm.  “I think this is an important bill,” Shipley said. “I think this is an important discussion…this is probably the most serious topic we’ve addressed so far.”

Five Republicans and all House Democrats voted against the bill. Representative Ross Wilburn, a Democrat from Ames, told his colleagues he’s the father of a son who completed his gender transition at the age of 21.  “Bills like this do take away freedom from Iowans to be who they are and from their parents to make health care, life saving decisions for their children,” Wilburn said.

Representative Chad Ingels of Randalia was one of the Republicans who voted against the bill says choosing to focus on one extremely small group in the state with this and other bills is not what the majority of Iowans want.  “I was raised not to judge other people,” Ingels says, “and we do a lot of judging of people in this building.”

Representative Brian Lohse of Bondurant, another Republican opponent of the bill, says parents should be free to make these decisions for their kids. “It’s not my job as a legislator, certainly not my job as a human to judge them in the rightness or wrongness of that decision,” Lohse said.

A similar law passed in Arkansas in 2021 was immediately challenged in court and has never taken effect as the case has not been resolved.