ACLU of Iowa sues over Medicaid coverage of gender-affirming surgery

A transgender woman in a hospital gown being treated by a doctor. (Photo by Zackary Drucker as part of Broadly's Gender Spectrum Collection. Credit: The Gender Spectrum Collection. Made available to media outlets via Creative Commons. No derivatives, no commercial use. See guidelines here:

The ACLU of Iowa is suing the state’s Medicaid program over covering gender-affirming surgery.

In an announcement, the legal advocacy organization said had filed a lawsuit on behalf of Aiden Vasquez. This lawsuit follows an earlier, similar lawsuit by Aiden and Mika Covington that also asked the courts to declare the state’s practice of denying coverage unconstitutional. 

The ACLU alleges that Iowa intetionally discriminates against transgender Medicaid recipients, causing significant harm.

The American Medical Association and other medical groups have said that gender dysphoria is a serious medical condition that sometimes requires surgery.

Illinois’ Medicaid program does cover all gender-affirming care.

“I would like everyone to understand that we are not talking about cosmetic surgery or something superficial,” Vasquez said. “This has affected my whole life in a negative way and has threatened my mental well-being. I am a man, but in a body that does not reflect who I am. That’s why this surgery will be life-changing. I have seen too many other transgender people suffer because they are unable to get the care they need.”