One Iowa to Serve as Plaintiff in ACLU Lawsuit Against New Transgender Medicaid Exception to Iowa Civil Rights Act

On Friday, the ACLU of Iowa filed a lawsuit on behalf of One Iowa, Aiden Vasquez*, and Mika Covington to block the portion of a law (HF 766) allowing Medicaid to deny coverage for medically necessary gender affirming surgery by carving out an exception to the Iowa Civil Rights Act’s nondiscrimination protections for transgender people. Gov. Reynolds signed HF 766 into law earlier this month.

One Iowa Executive Director Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel spoke at an ACLU of Iowa press conference earlier today. A video of the press conference can be found here. Hoffman-Zinnel delivered the following statement: 

One Iowa is a nonprofit organization working to advance, empower, and improve the lives of LGBTQ Iowans. We know that many LGBTQ individuals, and transgender individuals in particular, face barriers when accessing healthcare. This is why improving healthcare access for LGBTQ Iowans is one of our strategic priorities.

Through our work, we have seen firsthand how powerful, life changing, and necessary surgical care to treat gender dysphoria can be for transgender people. Transgender Iowans are our friends, family members, and fellow community members. No one should be denied the medical care they need, and that includes transgender individuals.

Just under two months ago, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously affirmed what we already knew to be true: excluding transition-related surgical care from Medicaid coverage is discriminatory against transgender Iowans. The ruling affirmed that discrimination has no place in our state.

In response, the Iowa Legislature bypassed a transparent legislative process to add discriminatory language to the Iowa Civil Rights Act at the last possible moment of session, risking the lives of low-income transgender Iowans on Medicaid. Let that sink in: they wrote discrimination directly into the very statute meant to protect all Iowans’ fundamental right to nondiscrimination.

By taking these extreme steps to refuse health care to transgender Iowans, Gov. Reynolds and the Iowa Legislature have ignored the expertise of leading medical professionals in the name of discrimination. Most major medical associations, including but not limited to the American Medical Association, American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American Psychiatric Association, assert that this care is medically necessary to treat gender dysphoria for many transgender people.

A patient’s health should always come first. Denying transgender people the medically necessary health care they need, as directed by their doctor, can contribute to depression, anxiety and increased risk of suicidal thoughts. Make no mistake, this law threatens lives.

One Iowa is proud to stand alongside Aiden Vasquez, Mika Covington, and the ACLU of Iowa to fight this discriminatory law as plaintiffs in this case.

*Aiden’s legal last name is currently DeLathower, and so by obligation, legal documents are filed under that name. However, his preferred last name is Vasquez, as explained more fully in the Petition, and we request that media use that name.*