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Judge: Iowa Medicaid denial of sex reassignment surgery unlawful

Gov. Kim Reynolds says she disagrees with the district court’s ruling and is exploring all options moving forward.

DES MOINES, Iowa — An Iowa judge has ruled that the 2019 state law passed by Republicans prohibiting Medicaid coverage for sex reassignment surgeries for transgender residents violates the Iowa Civil Rights Act and the Equal Protection clause of the Iowa Consitution. 

Judge William Kelly ordered the Iowa Department of Human Services to provide coverage for sex reassignment surgeries when ordered to treat gender dysphoria. 

"We're disappointed with the ruling and disagree, but my legal team is looking at it. And so there'll be more to come later on," Gov. Kim Reynolds said Tuesday. "But it's too early, we just got the ruling [Monday]. And so we're still looking through it and trying to determine what our options are."

The ruling is a victory for Aiden Vasquez and Mika Covington, two Iowans represented by the ACLU of Iowa, who sought surgeries under their Medicaid plans but were denied. 

The ACLU says there is a consensus among every "mainstream medical association" that gender-affirming surgery is "necessary, effective, life-saving care for some people suffering from gender dysphoria." 

RELATED: 2021 record year for anti-transgender bills in US and Iowa

ACLU of Iowa Legal Director Rita Bettis Austen says it's a historic win for civil rights in Iowa. 

"It recognizes what we've long known, that transgender Iowans must not be discriminated against, and that they are protected by the Iowa Constitution's guarantee of equal protection, as well as by the Iowa Civil Rights Act," Austen said in a statement.

RELATED: Reynolds says she will sign trans sports bill if it reaches her desk

WATCH | Reynolds pushes for transgender sports ban, gender-rights groups push back 

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