District Court Judge William Kelly ruled late last week that the state of Iowa’s denial of taxpayer-funded gender-transition surgery is unconstitutional. The Court ruled that Iowa law pertaining to the exclusion of coverage for sex reassignment surgery violates the Iowa Civil Rights Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the Iowa Constitution.
The ruling means transgender individuals will receive coverage under Iowa Medicaid for “medically necessary gender-affirming surgery for the treatment of Gender Dysphoria and other relevant diagnoses.”
The Iowa Civil Rights Act was updated to include sexual orientation and gender identity in 2007. A few Republicans in the Iowa legislature have attempted to strip that out of the law, but fellow Republicans have killed those efforts.
The ACLU of Iowa called the decisions a “historic win” for civil rights.
“It recognizes what we’ve long known, that transgender Iowans must not be discriminated against, and that they are protected by the Iowa Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection, as well as by the Iowa Civil Rights Act,” said Rita Bettis Austen, ACLU of Iowa Legal Director.
The FAMiLY Leader released a statement on the ruling as well.
“This ruling is a gross violation of the right of self-government and a tortuous manipulation of the Iowa Constitution. Gender dysphoria is a serious condition that requires compassionate expression of the truth that men and women are created specially unique. Invasive surgery and social experimentation are not substitutes for a compassionate expression of the truth.
“The governor should appeal and the Iowa Supreme Court should correct this errant decision. In the meantime, the Iowa Legislature should remove the sexual orientation and gender identity language from the Civil Rights Code, which is being used by courts to manipulate and subvert our state constitution.”
Aiden Vasquez, one of the individuals who sued the state over the decision, said he is “so glad” to take the next step forward.
“I desperately need this surgery,” he said. “For me, it’s nothing short of life-saving. The fact that I have had to jump through hoops and just to try to get coverage for a surgery that could save my life has been mentally, emotionally and physically draining. It is very hard for me to know that the state has gone out of its way to discriminate against me just because I’m transgender.”
Mika Covington, the other individual who sued the state, called it an “emotional day.”
“I have been suffering in this body and with gender dysphoria for so long,” Covington said. “This care will be life-saving for me because I’m constantly bombarded every day with giving up, with suicidal thoughts and thoughts of self-harm. The way transgender people are treated in our society and the way they are denied care is deeply painful. I am so glad we have gotten this recognition of the fundamental right of transgender people for medically necessary care. It’s a huge step forward.”