ACLU Sues Iowa Over Restrictions on Medicaid Use For Gender Reassignment Surgery

DES MOINES, Iowa — The ACLU of Iowa is suing the state in hopes of blocking a law that prevents transgender Iowans from using Medicaid for gender reassignment surgery.

Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the bill into law earlier this month. It was passed in response to an Iowa Supreme Court decision in March. The court ruled excluding coverage for such surgeries violated the state’s civil rights act.

The lawsuit was filed Friday on behalf of One Iowa, Mika Covington and Aiden Vasquez. Both Covington and Vasquez are transgender, qualify for Medicaid, and say their doctors agree they need gender-affirming surgery to treat their gender dysphoria.

“This is facial and intentional discrimination. It is literally targeting transgender people for less equal status, depriving them of the right to non-discrimination that they had under the civil rights act,” said Rita Bettis Austen, legal director for the ACLU of Iowa.

The ACLU says every major medical association agrees surgical treatment is medically necessary for some transgender people with gender dysphoria.

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