Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Anti-trans bills threaten students’ safety

There are 495 active anti-trans bills in the United States as of March 4, 2024, according to the Trans Legislation Tracker. There is little to no mainstream media coverage of any of these bills, despite the fact that they have the potential to destroy the lives of hundreds of thousands of people throughout the country. For what reason are the lives of trans people so strongly regulated and debated?

Iowa has the sixth highest number of anti-trans bills currently active in the United States. As Augustana students living on the border of Illinois and Iowa, we need to be aware of what is happening across the river. These bills have implications for students who go to Iowa seeking medical care, jobs or even entertainment opportunities, and they contribute to an environment that is becoming increasingly unsafe for Augustana’s gender-diverse population. While someone could make the argument of ‘just don’t go to Iowa,’ it’s not that simple. Whether or not someone is able to make the decision not to cross the river, they are not able to prevent the ideals of the anti-trans legislation from reaching them in some way. Because Augustana is so close to Iowa, the laws that Iowa puts in place have both direct and indirect impact on students, whether it be through social media stigmas, availability of medical care or housing opportunities after graduation.

As of right now, there are multiple bills that have been introduced that, if passed, would have severe detrimental effects on trans and gender non-conforming students. Potentially the most impactful of these would be Iowa Senate File 2055 (SF 2055).

SF 2055 would require anyone in the state of Iowa to use the bathroom that matches their sex assigned at birth. This would include public single-occupancy bathrooms as well as multi-stall bathrooms, completely negating the argument used by many politicians that bills like these are intended to protect children from encountering someone of another sex in a bathroom.

This would prevent trans people in the state of Iowa from using the bathroom that aligns with their gender, placing them at risk of harassment and discrimination.

When students then need to go to Iowa in order to find a job, for example, the prospects become even grimmer. Iowa House File 2082 would remove gender identity from the list of factors that employers are unable to discriminate against, instead classifying it as a disability. This would then feed into the narrative that being trans or genderdiverse is a mental illness, further increasing the othering that is already all too common.

While certainly not all Augustana students are gender-diverse, it is important for us all to be aware of the bills that are threatening to take away the rights of our classmates and our friends. While it would be impossible for the mainstream media to cover every anti-trans bill that gets proposed, greater coverage of the implications of these bills would be a step in the right direction. In order to fight back against the perpetuation of stereotypes and harm towards the transgender community, we first need to be aware of the legislation that is in the process of being enacted.

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