Opinion | Iowa ACLU is right: trans people shouldn’t be discriminated against in health care


The Iowa law that allows Medicaid to deny coverage for necessary procedures is outright discrimination.

Katie goodale

The Iowa State Capitol building is seen in Des Moines on April 9, 2019.

Health care for transgender people is just that: health care.

The Iowa Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU LGBTQ & HIV National Project recently filed a lawsuit against the state of Iowa. The lawsuit challenges a 2019 law that would allow Iowa to discriminate against transgender people and deny them Medicaid coverage for necessary gender-affirming care.

The Iowa ACLU claims that this practice and the law that reinstated it violates the equal protection requirement of the Iowa Constitution – and they are right.

The 2019 law follows an Iowa Supreme Court case that found that the refusal to cover Medicaid for gender-affirming surgery violated Iowa’s civil rights law. Soon after, the Republican-controlled legislature created a loophole that would specifically allow such discrimination.

This amendment to the Iowa Civil Rights Act is blatantly discriminatory. Its whole purpose is to allow the state to deny medically necessary health care coverage just because a person is transgender, even though Iowa Medicaid covers the same surgical procedures for people who are not transgender. It is clear that the motivation behind this law is only transphobia.

By denying Medicaid coverage, this law makes it functionally impossible for many transgender people to receive the care they need. Especially when it has no basis in medicine or science, this law should not come between a person and his doctor.

Medical treatment is not optional. Laws like these can have disastrous effects on the lives of transgender people. The psychological and physical stresses associated with living in a body incongruous with gender identity have been demonstrated time and time again.

According to the 2015 report from the National Center for Transgender Equality, 23% of trans people surveyed did not see a doctor when they needed it for fear of being abused as a transgender person, and 33% did not see a doctor. of doctor because of the cost.

Additionally, 39 percent of respondents were currently experiencing severe psychological distress, while this was true for only 5 percent of the US population. Likewise, 40% of trans respondents said they had attempted suicide in their lifetime, compared to 4.6% of the US population.

Besides the mental and physical damage this law causes, it also shows Iowa’s willingness to discriminate against transgender people and other anti-trans attitudes.

With transgender people facing disproportionately high rates of violence, it is important to cultivate a culture of respect rather than hostility and discrimination.

Public opinion shows growing acceptance and understanding of transgender people, with 73% of Americans saying transgender people should be protected from discrimination.

Iowa should not open loopholes in laws designed to protect its citizens, or implicitly encourage discrimination.

Even the United States Supreme Court ruled in 2020 in favor of transgender people in Bostock v. Cayton Clayton, ruling that the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, also protects employees. LGBT.

It is clear that the trend is changing on transgender issues across the country. Transgender people are not leaving. Iowa should live with the times and start protecting and caring for all of its citizens.

The fight for trans equality has only just begun. This trial shows how far we have yet to accomplish. If Iowa isn’t ready to fight for trans rights, it should at least stop fighting them.

Columns reflect the views of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.

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