Our Liberties We Prize, Our Rights We Will Maintain

Ignorance causes hate and innocent transgender lives are at stake because of it.


Lily Fleming

Atlas Nguyen ‘23 listens to speakers at the ‘We Say Gay’ rally March 8, 2023.

Theron Luett

Transgender lives are suffering across the nation due to a slew of anti-LGBTQ+ bills currently being introduced by lawmakers. On March 22, 2023 Iowa Republican Governor Kim Reynolds along with Iowa lawmakers, passed two bills discriminating against transgender youth in Iowa. 

Senate File 538 prevents Iowa doctors from prescribing gender-affirming surgeries, puberty blockers, or cross-sex hormones to transgender people under the age of 18. Senate file 482 prohibits students from entering or using school restrooms and changing rooms that do not align with their assigned sex at birth. 

By Reynolds signing her signature and allowing each bill to pass into law, she agreed to sign away the future safety and support for trans youth in the state. Making Iowa the eighth state in the nation to enact laws banning gender-affirming surgeries.

“This is an extremely uncomfortable position for me to be in. I don’t like it. But I have to do what I believe right now is in the best interest of the kids.” Reynolds stated in an interview with The Des Moines Register. 

Reynolds seems to only have “the best interest” for cishet (cisgender and heterosexual)  Iowans, as these bills will be detrimental to anybody else. Ignorant statements such as this dismiss what the best decision for trans kids is; to let trans kids be who they are. 

“I feel like there’s an unsaid fear of trans people, and it’s because they don’t understand. And that fear turns into hatred because they don’t want to understand. And then they don’t want to learn anymore, because they find like minded people. And it just snowballs from there.” Ace Vaughn-Godfrey ‘23 said. 

By banning gender affirming surgeries and healthcare, transgender kids are forced to present as someone they know they are not. By taking away any safety and security they felt in using the public restrooms that align with their identity, transgender kids are exposed to bullying, hate and violence, subjecting them to declined mental health and self harm. By alienating their community, transgender kids are put in harm’s way. And now the bullying has crept into the hands of bigoted politicians and the laws that rule the land. 

“I think that anytime you have a group of people in the center of political controversy, especially a group of young people … my fear is that it will create division and conflict between people … So, people that were more comfortable with expressing themselves in different ways, I fear that that will cause them to not express themselves as much, and sort of shrink those parts of their identity,” English teacher Kristi Buhr voiced.

Professional organizations such as The American Medical Association, The American Academy of Pediatrics, and many more have all publicly voiced opposition to these laws. In an article published by the AMA [American Medical Association], AMA board member Micheal Suk spoke on the board’s disapproval of these trans exclusive laws,

“The AMA opposes the dangerous intrusion of government into the practice of medicine and the criminalization of health care decision-making … Gender-affirming care is medically-necessary, evidence-based care that improves the physical and mental health of transgender and gender-diverse people,” Suk said.

Many people, including Reynolds, disagree with minors having access to gender-affirming care, as they believe that minors are too young to understand the consequences of such decisions.

“I knew I was trans at least by the age of 12 or 13, and nothing has changed since then … And I think it’s so stupid because once you turn 13 you can get piercings. Once you turn 16 you can go other places to get tattoos. You can get all these body modifications, you can do all that stuff and they’re like ‘well because it’s not permanent.’ It’s still gonna leave a scar, and that’s the same thing like all these hormone blockers and testosterone/estrogen, stuff like that,” Ace Vaughn-Godfrey ‘23 explained. 

The first step in supporting our own trans community in Johnston, is to educate ourselves. Although ignorance is bliss, ignorance leads to fear and hate. Which is the last thing transgender students need, as they are being deprived of their rights by our own government. 

Along with understanding the lives of trans individuals, a crucial need for trans students is being able to find a safe space in their schools. Meaning that they need support from both peers and faculty. Although these bills may limit certain accommodations, the JHS faculty wants to ensure every student feels safe. 

“We wanna be proactive, we wanna try and be ahead of things but we also know that there’s a lot more kids in this building than our adults … But we definitely do the best we can and I know it’s always better when people are talking to us. So I would encourage anybody who’s feeling that it’s not safe or welcoming to come talk to us, we’re definitely gonna work with you and try and figure out a way to make it a better experience for everybody,” Principal Woods explained.

These laws are not only violating the rights of trans students, but also preventing teacher’s from beig able to carry out thier most important purpose, creating a safe and welcoming environment for all students.

“Their voice is being taken away, their supports being taken away, and you know this population already has an incredibly high depression and suicide rate … as teachers it’s a part of our job to help students feel safe and cared about at school. And speaking broadly, I think that there are teachers that are really going to struggle with feeling like they can’t offer that support.” Buhr said.

If Iowa Republican legislators continue passing laws that discriminate against their own trans youth, there will be no future for LGBTQ+ communities. With knowledge comes acceptance, and the future of our country and our society depend on it. Transgender people are your neighbors, they are your family, they are your friends, and they need your support more than ever.


Trans Lifeline


The Trevor Project

Anti-bullying Hotline



988- Suicide and Crisis Lifeline