The Iowa Supreme Court on Friday (8 March) delivered a huge victory to transgender people in the state.
In a unanimous decision, the justices found that the state’s ban on Medicaid coverage for medically necessary surgical care for trans individuals is unlawful.
They ultimately determined the ban violates the state’s gender identity protections outline in its Civil Rights Act.
The case was brought forward by EerieAnna Good and Carol Anne Beal, represented by the ACLU’s chapter in Iowa.
Both women’s medical providers determined gender confirmation surgery was necessary to treat their gender dysphoria. However, due to the state’s ban, both were denied Medicaid coverage for these services.
They both challenged this ban and eventually legal authorities consolidated them into one, Good-Beal v. Iowa Dept. of Human Services.
The state’s Department of Human Services argued that gender confirmation surgery is ‘cosmetic, reconstructive, or plastic surgery […] performed primarily for psychological purposes’.
The state Supreme Court rejected this argument and subsequently ruled the ban violated the Civil Rights Act. Both women also said the ban was constitutional, but since the justices found in favor of them with the Civil Rights Act alone, they did not rule on constitutionality.
A win that saves lives
‘The ruling means that many transgender Iowans will be able to obtain life-saving medical care that they were unable to get in the past,’ said John Knight of the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project.
‘Denying health care coverage to someone because they are transgender is wrong and extremely harmful.’
Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel, Executive Director of the LGBTI organization One Iowa, similarly praised the court’s decision.
‘Through our work with transgender Iowans, we have seen firsthand how powerful, life-changing, and absolutely essential gender-affirming surgery can be for transgender people grappling with gender dysphoria. This decision will, quite literally, save lives,’ he said.
‘It also sets a strong judicial precedent for protecting transgender Iowans’ civil rights in our state’s highest court.’