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Ban on Medicaid Coverage for Transgender Surgical Care Receives Court Challenge

ACLU of Iowa

The ACLU of Iowa is filing a lawsuit to challenge the Iowa Department of Human Services’ ban on Medicaid coverage for transition-related medical care for transgender Iowans. The civil rights group says the ban is based on outdated assumptions about the nature of transgender health care.

The lawsuit is being filed on behalf of two clients – EerieAnna Good of the Quad Cities and Carol Ann Beal of northwest Iowa. Beal says she began taking hormone therapy when she was 14 and has lived as a woman since. She says she joined the suit because someone needed to be a trailblazer.

“You go through so many years transitioning and now I’ve hit a brick wall with the Iowa discriminatory ban on Medicaid coverage in transition related care,” she says.

Dr. Joe Freund is a family practice doctor in Des Moines who treats many transgender patients. He says gender-affirming surgery can ease depression in these people.

“I’m passionate about this because I’ve lost patients to suicide because of the inability to get this care they have needed,” he says.

Beal's case to appeal the denial of coverage is still before the Department of Human Services. Once the appeal is exhausted, the ACLU will take the case to district court.