Republican lawmakers in the state of Iowa are still discriminating against trans Iowans. Now, they are pushing to prohibit the use of public insurance dollars (including Medicaid) on transition-related surgeries.
The Republican-controlled State House approved the proposal on the afternoon of Saturday, 27 April. This was just one day after the Republican-majority Senate pushed to advance it. No Democrat voted on the proposal. It will now go to the desk of Republican Governor Kim Reynolds to become law. If signed, the restrictions would go into effect immediately.
This provision was added to the health budget bill. It would ban ‘any state or local government unit or tax-supported district from providing sex reassignment surgery,’ the Des Moines Register reports. This would also apply to other cosmetic, reconstructive, or plastic surgeries relating to ‘transsexualism, hermaphroditism, gender identity disorder, or body dysmorphic disorder.’
This new amendment proposal is in response to the landmark Iowa ruling that struck down a ban on coverage for trans-related surgeries.
‘This amendment is a clear violation of the equal protection under the Iowa Constitution because it would discriminate against people simply because they are transgender,’ said Mark Stringer, executive director of the ACLU of Iowa.
Transgender people in Iowa spoke out against the provision as well. ‘I am speaking to you as a person who is currently jumping through hoops for her own gender affirming surgery,’ trans Iowan Alexandra Gray said, speaking to the Capitol on Friday.
‘We don’t do this because it’s a joke. We don’t do this because it’s cosmetic. Those are the things we have to go through to be who we are.’
Republican Senator Mark Costello defended the provision, claiming he didn’t feel such procedures were ‘always medically necessary.’
‘Protecting transgender people from discrimination is settled law in Iowa, and has been since 2007. The Iowa Supreme Court made clear that the Iowa Civil Rights Act protects transgender Iowans against Medicaid discrimination in their unanimous ruling just over one month ago,’ Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel, executive director for LGBTQ rights group One Iowa Action, said in a statement.
‘In response, a small group of legislators want to pick and choose who deserves protections under the law. And it’s clear they think of transgender Iowans as second-class citizens. This amendment is a harmful attempt to deny transgender Iowans medically necessary care. And it will not stand up to legal muster.’