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Iowa governor signs law limiting funds for trans and intersex healthcare

Sofia Lotto Persio May 4, 2019
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Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds (C) pictured between President Donald Trump (L) and his daughter Ivanka Trump (R), as he holds a roundtable discussion on workforce development at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, Iowa, July 26, 2018.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds (C) pictured between President Donald Trump (L) and his daughter Ivanka Trump (R), as he holds a roundtable discussion on workforce development at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, Iowa, July 26, 2018. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty)

Iowa governor Kim Reynolds signed a law that will limit public funds for trans and intersex healthcare.

Iowa Republicans introduced a last-minute amendment to the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) budget bill on April 26 in an effort to carve a broad exemption into non-discrimination healthcare laws.

The amendment to the law signed by Governor Reynolds on Friday (May 3) stipulate that civil rights measures “shall not require any state or local government unit or tax-supported district to provide for sex reassignment surgery or any other cosmetic, reconstructive, or plastic surgery procedure related to transsexualism, hermaphroditism, gender identity disorder, or body dysmorphic disorder.”

As such, those procedures will no longer be funded under public programs such as Medicaid. The amendment directly undermines a March ruling by Iowa’s Supreme Court, which stated that the state’s Civil Rights Act protects transgender Iowans from discrimination based on gender identity, including in the provision of services via Medicaid.

“By signing this cruel legislation into law, Gov. Reynolds has told every transgender Iowan that they are second-hand citizens and unwelcome in our state.”

— One Iowa

The law comes into effect the moment the governor signs it. LGBT+ campaigners have condemned the legislation and Governor Reynolds’ decision to sign it.

“It’s deeply disappointing that Gov. Kim Reynolds is caving to the pressure from some radical lawmakers in the Iowa Senate, instead of protecting the rights and dignity of transgender Iowans,” said JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president of policy and political affairs at the Human Rights Campaign.

Winterhof added: “Gov. Reynolds had the option to line-item veto this provision and leave the rest of the funding bill intact, but she did not. This sends a strong message that she is not working for all of her constituents and a craven desire to please Iowa’s most extreme lawmakers. As a native Iowan, Iowa deserves better—and different—leaders.”

U.S. President Donald Trump listens as Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks during a campaign rally at the Mid-America Center on October 9, 2018 in Council Bluffs.
U.S. President Donald Trump listens as Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks during a campaign rally at the Mid-America Center on October 9, 2018 in Council Bluffs. (Scott Olson/Getty)

LGBT+ rights group One Iowa also condemned the governor’s decisions in a statement on Friday.

“We are deeply disappointed that Gov. Reynolds has ignored medical experts, Iowa business leaders, cost analysis data, and the many transgender Iowans and allies who shared their stories with her to sign this bill into law,” the statement read.

It added: “By signing this cruel legislation into law, Gov. Reynolds has told every transgender Iowan that they are second-hand citizens and unwelcome in our state. Make no mistake, this law threatens people’s lives. Today is a shameful day to be an Iowan.”

Related topics: Iowa, Republicans, trans healthcare, US

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