Home News Around the Region: Iowa City set to expand legal definition of gender to include non-binary

Around the Region: Iowa City set to expand legal definition of gender to include non-binary

Around the Region: Iowa City set to expand legal definition of gender to include non-binary

Iowa City is working on expanding its definition of gender identity away from just male and female, KCRG reports:

Iowa City may soon change it’s definition of gender identity. Right now, it’s still only male or female. City council voted Tuesday night 7-0 to change that.

“We’re thinking about inclusion and we want to make sure that we’re not just talking about it but it’s actually embedded in our policies and procedures,” said City Councilman Kinglsey Botchway.
The new ordinance will allow people to identify as “non-binary” on documentation if they don’t feel they fall into the category of male or female.
The change first started when University of Iowa student Ryan Hall tried to apply for a city council position.
“At the time, we had a gender requirement that required us to have a female be a part of that board,” said Botchway. “Ryan came back and let us know that he was gender fluid so because of that it begged the question, “Why do we have this particular requirement?””
Hall says it wasn’t just that instance that made Hall wonder if things should change.
“When people sign a voter’s registration, they have to fill out in the state of Iowa, if they’re male or female, which is their assigned sex at birth, not their gender identity,” said Hall.

The Daily Iowan has more:

On Tuesday night, the Iowa City City Council voted 7-0 to update the city ordinances concerning gender identity and human rights. The City Council agreed to amend Title 2, “Human Rights,” Chapter 1, “Definitions.”
Currently, the ordinance defines gender identity as “a person’s various individual attributes, actual or perceived, in behavior, practice or appearance, as they are understood to be masculine and/or feminine.”
The new amendment will remove these terms to make it inclusive for nonbinary expression. Nonbinary expression means individuals who believe that they do not fall under male/female identities.
According to the American Psychological Association, it is difficult to estimate the number of individuals who identify as nonbinary because of limited research. However, it estimates that nonbinary individuals make up 25 to 35 percent of the populations that identify as transgender.
The ordinance defines these terms in order to protect community members of Iowa City against discrimination and to be consistent with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which states that the United States outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.

Iowa State Daily takes a look at a Republican bill that would eliminate protections for transgender and gender diverse people:

Twelve Republican lawmakers in the Iowa Legislature have proposed eliminating protections for transgender, genderqueer and genderfluid individuals who wish to utilize housing, restrooms and locker rooms associated with their gender identity.
All twelve lawmakers were asked for comment. Only Larry Sheets, R-Moulton, responded and he did not wish to speak on record.
Currently, students at Iowa State can use restrooms consistent with their gender identity. The bill would allow Iowa State to decide that transgender students could not continue using bathrooms that align with their gender identity. What the passage of this, or a similar law, would mean for students is unknown.

South Dakota
The Associated Press reports that South Dakota lawmakers want to ban discussion of transgender issues and experiences in schools:

South Dakota lawmakers will consider banning public school teaching on gender identity in elementary and middle schools, a push that critics say targets transgender students in the same way some states limit the positive portrayal of homosexuality in the classroom.
The state would be the first in the nation to block instruction on gender identity or gender expression, said Nathan Smith, public policy director at GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network), a national group focused on safe schools for LGBTQ students. But the organization recently counted seven states with restrictions on positively portraying homosexuality in health classes, sometimes called “no-promo-homo” laws. The states are Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas.
“It’s maybe a little different in the way that it’s crafted and maybe a little different in the way, sort of the population that it targets, but the underlying concerns are the same for us as they would be in … a traditional ‘no-promo-homo’ law,” Smith said. “We think that it’s bad broadly for LGBTQ students in South Dakota.”

The Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce is speaking out against a Republican bill to ban local nondiscrimination ordinances that are more expansive than the state’s, according to a press release:

Jason Rae, President & CEO of the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce, released this statement today on Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) pushing anti-LGBT legislation.
“It’s shameful that WMC is pushing legislation that will roll back protections local communities in Wisconsin have enacted to protect members of the LGBT community from discrimination.
“Senate Bill 634 and Assembly Bill 748 prevents local governments from making decisions about what types of policies are best for those who live and work in a local community. This would have a tremendously negative impact on many cities and counties around the state who are working hard to build welcoming and inclusive communities.
“It is ironic that WMC claims to be fighting to make Wisconsin ‘open for business’ while rolling back protections that actually help attract businesses and workers to our state.
“While ten states have considered this type of legislation, only three have passed a preemption like this. Passing this legislation would make Wisconsin one of the more hostile states in the nation to LGBTQ people.

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Andy Birkey has written for a number of Minnesota and national publications. He founded Eleventh Avenue South which ran from 2002-2011, wrote for the Minnesota Independent from 2006-2011, the American Independent from 2010-2013. His writing has appeared in The Advocate, The Star Tribune, The Huffington Post, Salon, Cagle News Service, Twin Cities Daily Planet, TheUptake, Vita.mn and much more. His writing on LGBT issues, the religious right and social justice has won awards including Best Beat Reporting by the Online News Association, Best Series by the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and an honorable mention by the Sex-Positive Journalism awards.


  1. Iowa please, have your twelve Republican lawmakers follow the Constitution of this country. Specifically amendment 14, so they will not create a law, that is out of order with our Constitution please. As for So Dakota, they want to revert to the mentality of a [Hunter Gatherer] state with thoughts as that, they contemplate. Transgender people, are people period. They were born with a brain opposite the gender assigned at birth, from what was seen between their legs. This is now documented in science and not any religious studies.

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