California Bans State-Sponsored Travel to Iowa over Refusal to Provide Medicaid Coverage for Gender-Reassignment Surgeries

Mairead McArdle

California added an eleventh state to its travel blacklist on Friday, banning state-sponsored travel to Iowa over that state’s refusal to cover gender-transition surgeries under its Medicaid program.

California attorney general Xavier Becerra announced the decision to add Iowa to the travel-ban list, which takes effect October 4 and means public employees and college students will not be able to travel to Iowa on the taxpayer’s dime.

In May, Iowa governor Kim Reynolds signed a law blocking Medicaid from paying for gender-reassignment surgeries despite the state Supreme Court’s ruling earlier this year in favor of charging taxpayers for the procedures. Gender identity is a protected characteristic under Iowa’s Civil Rights Act.

“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 in a statement. “California has taken an unambiguous stand against discrimination and government actions that would enable it.”

California’s travel blacklist stems from a 2016 law allowing the Golden State to ban state travel to other U.S. states that roll back protections for LGBT citizens. Texas, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Mississippi, and Kentucky are also on the list.

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