A Landmark Ruling Protects Transgender Medical Rights in Iowa

Photo Credit: ACLU of Iowa.

Photo Credit: ACLU of Iowa.

In 2017, two Iowa women requested Medicaid assistance for gender-affirming surgery. Even though their medical providers deemed it necessary for the women to receive surgery, they were denied coverage. The ACLU of Iowa and its legal partners challenged this denial on the grounds that it violated the Iowa Civil Rights Act, and last week, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled unanimously in their favor. This decision affirms that the Medicaid program in Iowa cannot discriminate against transgender individuals who are seeking medically necessary care, opening surgical treatments for gender dysphoria to Medicaid coverage for the first time ever in Iowa.

In October, Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights joined an amicus brief urging the court to affirm this ruling. Our brief provided historical context for the importance of equality in health care, recalling that “progress has occurred only by recognition that immutable characteristics such as race, gender or LGBT identity should not be used to thwart access to medically necessary care”.

We are proud to be part of this important civil rights victory for transgender people.  

Hannah Stephan