Iowa GOP runs anti-trans ad after teen’s suicide

A screen shot of the ad playing in Iowa. (Photo from Iowa Starting Line)

DES MOINES — The Iowa Republican Party has run an attack ad on transgender people in bathrooms as part of a special election for a state house district, less than a month after the suicide of a trans teen.

From Iowa Starting Line:

Just a month after a transgender 13-year-old’s suicide in Fairfield, the Republican Party of Iowa and candidate Travis Harris are running attack ads on transgender bathrooms that are reigniting a bitter controversy that divided a community last year. Their target is Phil Miller, the Democratic candidate in the special election for House District 82, who as school board president voted to keep in place a policy on the matter mandated by both Iowa and national law.

Community members and former students are increasingly worried about the psychological impacts on local LGBTQ students that the Republican ad campaign could be causing. Many noted that the recent death of Finn Bousquet, a transgender Fairfield teen who killed himself on June 19 of this year, made the ads especially ill-timed.

“It’s pretty insensitive. This kid was really well-liked among many in the community,” said Ron Mullen, a parent who was involved in last year’s meetings over the transgender bathroom policies.

The party started running the ad in July.

“The fear-mongering tactics used in this ad campaign are not just unacceptable, but dangerous as well. The ad relies on harmful and untrue stereotypes about the transgender community, targeting young students in particular, and scapegoats them for political gain,” said Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel, executive director of One Iowa, the state’s LGBTQ rights organization.

“By creating and publicizing this ad, Harris for Iowa and the Republican Party of Iowa are recklessly fueling rhetoric that contributes to harassment and violence that transgender people face. This malicious ad should be pulled from the airwaves immediately, and Harris for Iowa and the Republican Party of Iowa should publicly apologize for their blatant disregard of transgender Iowans’ lives and safety.”