The transgender flag
Photo Credit: torbackhopper via Flickr (CC-By-2.0)

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced his state will restrict state-funded and state-sponsored travel to Iowa because the state passed a law defunding Medicaid dollars for transgender surgeries.

Iowa becomes the 11th state that California has placed on its state travel ban.

“The Iowa Legislature has reversed course on what was settled law under the Iowa Civil Rights Act, repealing protections for those seeking gender-affirming healthcare,” Becerra said. “California has taken an unambiguous stand against discrimination and government actions that would enable it. That’s why my office is adding Iowa to the list of states subject to state-funded or sponsored travel restrictions.”

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled against a rule in Iowa’s Administrative Code restricting Medicaid dollars for sex reassignment surgeries it classified as a “cosmetic, reconstructive or plastic surgery” last spring, but the Iowa Legislature passed HF 766, the Health and Human Services appropriations bill that defunded gender reassignment surgeries of Medicaid dollars, and Governor Kim Reynolds signed the bill into law on May 3, 2019.

It should be noted that Iowa’s Medicaid program does not generally cover any cosmetic, reconstructive, or plastic surgery except breast reconstruction surgery following breast cancer and a mastectomy. So it is unclear how denying a sex reassignment surgery, that is medically unnecessary, is a violation of the Iowa Civil Rights Act when the state does not pay for other surgeries that are also not medically necessary.

A California law, Assembly Bill 1887 (AB 1887), passed in 2017, prohibits “state-funded and state-sponsored travel to states that enact a law after June 26, 2015 that voids or repeals an existing state or local protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.”

Except it didn’t, there was never any guarantee of taxpayer funding for sex reassignment surgery nor did the Iowa Legislature repeal the sexual orientation or gender identity language from the Iowa Civil Rights Act.

One has to wonder if eventually the only states California will only allow official travel to are states it agrees with? Perhaps states added to these lists should reciprocate. I wonder who would be hurt more?

Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas are also on California’s travel ban list.

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