On June 24, 2022, the National Women’s Law Center, alongside 12 groups dedicated to gender justice and LGBTQ rights and counsel Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP, filed an amicus brief in the case Vasquez v. Iowa Department of Human Services (No. 21-1977) before the Iowa Supreme Court. This case challenges Iowa’s long-running attempt to bar Medicaid coverage for transgender Iowans seeking gender affirming health care. Although the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that such an exclusion violated the Iowa Civil Rights Act, the Iowa legislature subsequently amended the Act to provide that it would not require the state to cover gender affirming health care. The plaintiffs—Aiden Vasquez and Mika Covington, two transgender Iowans—challenged this amendment, arguing that it violates the Iowa Constitution’s equal protection guarantee.
Our brief argues that the amendment discriminates based on transgender status and should therefore be subject to—and struck down under—strict scrutiny under the Iowa Constitution. We highlight that transgender individuals have long faced discrimination—in health care, as well as in education, employment, public spaces, and the legal system. For this and other reasons, we assert that transgender people must be recognized as a class in need of protection from laws targeting them based on invidious prejudice and stereotypes.