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California Bans Official Travel to Iowa Over Anti-Trans Law

California Bans Official Travel to Iowa Over Anti-Trans Law

Iowa is the 11th state to make California's blacklist.

California has got a list of names and Iowa's is in red, underlined.

The Golden State announced this week that it will be banning all nonessential travel to Iowa over a bill amendment restricting transgender people from using Medicaid funding for gender confirmation surgery. HF 766, which was signed in May by Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, extends to "any... procedure related to transsexualism, hermaphroditism, gender identity disorder, or body dysmorphic disorder."

The legislation was passed just months after the state's Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous verdict that trans citizens were entitled to gender-affirming care under the Iowa Civil Rights Act. When HF 766 became law, many trans Iowans had to cancel surgeries they'd had scheduled for weeks.

On Tuesday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced that government employees would no longer be permitted to visit Iowa on official business funded by the state in response to that law's passage. The decision follows the enactment of a California law in 2017 allowing government officials to take action against states that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

In a statement, Becerra claimed Iowa's decision to deny potentially life-saving treatment to an already vulnerable population is contrary to the state's values.

"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," he said, as the Sacramento Beefirst reported. "California has taken an unambiguous stand against discrimination and government actions that would enable it."

Iowa is the 11th state to make California's blacklist, and others include Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Texas. Alabama, Oklahoma, and Texas allow state-funded adoption and foster care agencies to refuse placement to same-sex couples, while Mississippi passed a sweeping "religious freedom" bill in 2016. North Carolina is home to the quasi-repealed anti-trans bathroom bill HB 2.

There are some exceptions to the California travel ban. It does not include official state visits regarding health or public safety and visits scheduled prior to January 2017.

While public universities in California are forbidden from traveling to states that discriminate, the Bee notes that the law doesn't seem to have made much of an impact on collegiate sports. "[A]thletic programs have continued to attend games they've scheduled and other post-season events in states subject to the ban," the Sacramento newspaper reports.

But if a challenge from the American Civil Liberties Union is successful, California officials will have no reason to steer clear of Iowa. In May, the ACLU sued on behalf of two trans Iowans who hoped to receive gender confirmation surgery under the Supreme Court ruling.

Although a judge dismissed the lawsuit in July, the legal advocacy group has appealed the ruling.

California, meanwhile, has guaranteed affirming treatment for transgender people under its Medical program for deacades. In an extremely early victory for trans rights, the California's First District Court of Appeal ruled in 1978 that surgery and hormones constituted medically necessary care and could not be classified as "cosmetic."

RELATED | Trans People in Iowa Can Now Fund Their Surgeries Through Medicaid

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