New Iowa City ordinance to amend the definition of gender identity

Published: Feb. 9, 2018 at 9:22 PM CST
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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.

Botchway says, while state law has the binary requirement, there's no reason they couldn't add additional amendments.

"It's this really terrible feeling where you just can't feel like you can be your whole self because you're made to really check a box that doesn't really apply to you," said Hall.

Both say it's just the beginning.

"I would say that changing your policies and procedures is just one step it's not all the steps that could be taken to make sure that people that identify as LGBT or identify as non-binary to have a place and feel welcome in our city," said Botchway.

"(I feel like it's) really great that this change is being made and that it really needs to be a blueprint for how it needs to make larger changes in the state and the federal level as well," said Hall.

This week's vote was the first consideration, the city council will have to vote again.