Under Gov. Kim Reynolds, our state is overseeing an all-out war on transgender rights. In 2017, the governor signed into law a bill prohibiting abortion providers from accessing public money. That bill forced four Planned Parenthood clinics to close. Then, in May of this year, the governor signed into law a bill that blocked transgender people from using Medicaid for reassignment surgery and another bill that prevented Planned Parenthood from accessing government grants to provide sex education programs in the state. Each of these attacks on Planned Parenthood is an attack on transgender people.
More recently, the Trump administration forced Planned Parenthood out of the Title X grant funding program, by passing a rule that prevented the clinics from referring patients to abortion providers. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website claims, the rule is “not interfering with the ability of doctors and advanced practice providers to provide non-directive abortion counseling.” But the people most affected by the rule disagree.
This focused attack on reproductive rights is also an attack on trans rights. In a legal brief filed in protest of the Title X rule, the National Center for Transgender Equality argued, “These clinics have created welcoming spaces and health care services designed to serve LGBTQ people, who otherwise face pervasive discrimination in the health care system.”
Ysandril Morrigan, executive director of the Transgender Alliance of Iowa, told The Gazette in an interview that Planned Parenthood is one of the few places in Iowa that provide medical care for transgender people in the state, including gender affirming hormone replacement therapy and things everyone needs like STI testing. “The people in my community are just like you, we have people who love us, we need regular checkups and health care too.” Morrigan points out that transgender people in her community face regular discrimination at every level of society. “Any effort to undermine Planned Parenthood puts an already vulnerable population at further risk,” she adds.
While the University of Iowa and Unity Point, both offer specific LGBTQ health care services, cost is often an insurmountable barrier.
A 2015 survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality, found that “23 percent of respondents did not see a doctor when they needed to because of fear of being mistreated as a transgender person, and 33 percent did not see a doctor when needed because they could not afford it.”
The battle in our state over health care and reproductive rights, is more than just a debate about abortion, it’s a direct attack on our transgender friends and neighbors whose voices are all too often excluded from these conversations and policy debates.
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