Fight for Transgender Healthcare in Iowa

Transgender Iowans had a victory in March when the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that the ban on trans-related surgeries for Medicaid and Medicare was unconstitutional. However, this long-fought victory was shortlived.

Around Thursday or Friday of last week, Trans Iowans discovered that the Costello Amendment was added to the HF 766 Budget bill at the last minute. This Amendment’s language could stop all state funds (and any allocated federal funds) from going toward transgender healthcare, especially Medicaid/Medicare and any state employees that have insurance through the state. It is also possible based on the verbiage that any state grants related to trans healthcare could also be impacted.

This underhanded method circumvented the usual method of creating a bill in committee, allowing public comment, and then having a debate in the Senate and House over it. Instead of using normal democratic channels, specific Republicans shoved it in a Budget bill.

So myself and my friend Tobias rallied the First Unitarian Trans Action Group to fight against this Amendment. Since the budget bill already had passed in the Senate and House, it was on its way to the Governor’s office.

On Monday, April 29th, 2019, we met at 2pm at Capitol Building at the Governor’s Office, in order to ask Governor Reynolds to in-line-veto this amendment to the HF 766 bill. We asked them to not sign this bill until they have met with us. Because this amendment was slipped in at last minute without proper debate or public hearing for policy changes, we told the Governor’s office we would stay until they scheduled a meeting with us before the bill is signed. Senator Celsi assisted our negotiations for a meeting with the Deputy Chief of Staff, hopefully Governor Reynolds, and the Governor’s aides.

Members of the Trans Action Group pose at the Iowa Capitol with the First Unitarian Social Justice Minister and the Downtown Disciples Minister.
Members of Trans Action Group pose at the State Capitol with two ministers (First Unitarian Associate Minister in front center, and Downtown Disciples Minister standing fourth from front on left in light grey).

With Senator Celsi’s help, we obtained a meeting for 8am Tuesday, April 30th, 2019 to ask for an in-line veto for the harmful trans healthcare amendment before the HF 766 bill is signed.  Tobias picked me up at 7:30 am on Tuesday, and we were pleasantly surprised by the large showing of people in support of our efforts. Approximately twenty to twenty-five people showed, including the Senator of my district.

Below in italics is our press statement in regards to the Tuesday meeting, which describes how the meeting went and what the Governor’s Office promised us after listening to our testimonies.

If any of my patrons or readers would like to support us, please signal boost this post. Use any of these hashtags:   #TAGUrself, #IAtranshealth, #TransIsBeautiful, #WonttBeErased   If you are an Iowan, please contact the Govenor’s Office and push for a line-veto of the Amendment to HF766 that targets Trans healthcare. See my twitter thread here for more information:

This document was given to the Governor’s office as a take-away of our main points.

Press Release:

For immediate release:

The Transgender Action Group protests the Amendment to HF 766 that would stop state and/or federal funds from being used for Transgender healthcare, specifically Medicaid and Medicare and the health insurances for state employees.

On Tuesday, April 30, 2018, the Deputy Chief of Staff for the Governor’s Office met with our group. Ten individuals gave testimony: the two trans co-organizers; a trans woman Republican who had worked on Governor Reynold’s campaign; a parent of a trans child; five representatives of local faith-based groups; and a licensed child psychologist. Demonstrators were invited into the room to witness the meeting, while another member of Governor Reynold’s staff stood to observe. 

The trans people present and the parent of a trans child offered stories of their own struggles with healthcare discrimination; the psychologist testified to the life-saving necessity of healthcare for trans people; finally, the faith leaders provided a compelling moral argument to line-veto the amendment, appealing to the Governor’s compassion for her fellow Iowans. After members of the audience had an opportunity to add their own emotional testimony, the Deputy Chief of Staff promised to notify the Transgender Action Group when the Governor’s Office received the bill for signature.

Statement given to KCCI by Aidan Zingler, co-organizer: “I don’t know what the Governor is thinking and if she will go through with the in-line veto of this Amendment, but I truly hope Governor Reynolds and her staff open up their minds and hearts, take a step back by doing the in-line veto, and listen to us trans people, listen to the medical professionals that work with us, listen to the studies that show that this truly is life-saving health care, and that we should be afforded the same rights as any cisgender person who goes in for medical treatments.”

Statement from Tobias Gurl, co-organizer: “This is an opportunity for Governor Reynolds to show her dedication to the health and wellness of her fellow Iowans. My fellow transgender people and I contribute our taxes, our hard work, and our love to our communities. We urge Governor Reynolds to reject this underhanded amendment and help us maintain our life-saving care.”

The Transgender Action Group is a social justice group within the First Unitarian Church, that focuses on supporting the trans community in Iowa, educating the Church and the public on transgender people and our lives, and providing events to promote and uplift the trans people within our communities. 

Thank you,


Members of the Transgender Action Group from First Unitarian Church of Des Moines.

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By Aibird

Open the door, step inside. Here you find a forest, teeming with animals and birds, which sweeps up the sides of snow-capped mountains. Here in the small pocket of beauty, one finds the essence of my soul. A writer at heart, I delve deep into the finer details of humanity's spirit, and seek to share with others what gems I uncover. I find life exciting and full of interesting surprises, and despite the great pain that often confronts me, I persevere with the joy in my heart still bubbling, and the light of my soul still aflame. There is a time and a place to introspect one's self, but often enough it is best to not look back in regret, but leap forward in the present toward the achievement of one's deepest dreams. I am a wanderer. An explorer. One place cannot contain me for long, but to my friends and family, I remain loyal, for love is not bound by time nor place. Once cultivated and nourished continuously, it binds people together on a journey through the unknown reaches of life.

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