Assault on Iowan’s Health Care BWK’s comments on the floor for 4/27/2019

Ladies and Gentlemen of the House.

Today is a sad day for the people of Iowa. What happened to working together this legislative session? Rep. Lundgren, you told me you wanted to work with Democrats and stay away from divisive issues. This is the exact opposite. This legislation is NOT something the people of Iowa want to see coming out of the Statehouse.

We have done nothing to fix the Medicaid disaster. Nothing! We are doing nothing to hold our MCOs accountable for the crisis privatization has caused. Just last month, we lost Iowa’s largest MCO and instead of addressing the 400,000 people displaced, we are attacking one of our most marginalized populations. If you want to make privatized health care work, you need to be correcting, and holding Iowa’s MCOs to the highest standard possible – not excusing them for their greed, allowing them to reduce, deny and terminate services for their members. We are letting some of Iowa’s most vulnerable people slip through the systems fingers – the havoc that’s been caused is this body’s responsibility and it’s humiliating and quite frankly, shameful. If there is a place to address the privatized Medicaid mess, this would be the bill to do it.

Not only does this bill turn a blind eye to Medicaid, but it addresses topics not near HHS Budget! This amendment takes away the civil rights of Iowa’s transgender population. You didn’t even give the citizens who are affected by this bill a chance to give their opinion. This proposal deserved to be thoroughly examined and it was not!. This amendment is mean spirited and cruel. What are you thinking!!??

It can be hard to understand what it’s like to be transgender, especially if you’ve never met a transgender person. A transgender person transitions to live every day as the gender they’ve always known themselves to be.

These are people. Ronan grew up in my district in old town Ames. Their home was known for its an outdoor pool in the back. My son has many stories hanging out at that pool. Ronan’s mom made the cake for my son’s graduation party. Ronan comes from a warm, loving and hard working family.

Ronan was an undergraduate when he came out his and and his mom said “Oh honey, I know” Ronan’s mom was waiting for Ronan to come out but she knew he needed to do it on his own time. Ronan said his parents didn’t have all the answers but they worked to be supportive and always loved Ronan.

I have fond memories of great conversations with both of Ronan’s parents. I knew that when my son was at their house he was in a safe place.

Talking to Ronan, he said “I was glad to be raised in Iowa. But hearing about this amendment, Iowans need to have some tough conversations. “

Ronan is a person who deserves equal protection under our laws.

He said: “This will make Iowa more unsafe. It will discourage people from coming out and living as their authentic selves, and it will also encourage people to leave Iowa to go to places more accepting and supportive.”

And then Ronan: “For many transgender people, quality of life improves after they transition. Gender affirming surgery is often essential for their well-being, with better psychosocial functioning, more stable relationships and higher levels of contentment and happiness being reported by men and women who have transitioned.”

These are the people we go to church with. These people are my friends and your friends.

They are people who, not by choice, do not identify as the gender they were born into.


Let me tell you about D

D asked that I not identify her. Her family went to church with my family. She attended Sunday School with my children. She participated in the Christmas pageant every year. She was interested in drama and acted in local drama clubs. D was interested in politics and interviewed me for a political science class when she was a student at ISU. D is just like my children. D is just like my children except D is transgender. D also grew up in a loving, stable and hard-working home.

In D’s words: “Transition-related healthcare is lifesaving treatment for society’s most vulnerable group. This kind of discrimination is unconstitutional and incredibly harmful.”


From D’s mom: “As a parent: Observing the challenges of this population, that the dysphoria which is experienced is extremely challenging to mental and physical health. The rights for medical and mental health needs of transgender individuals is just as valuable as any other individual. It is important to treat dysphoria in order to avoid long term health consequences of depression and suicidal symptoms related to dysphoria.”


Continue quote: “Another assault on this population due to lack of understanding and transphobia. These treatments can’t be considered elective because being transgender isn’t a choice.”

Gender affirming surgery saves lives.

In 2007, when we passed the civil rights code, I was impressed with how the LGBT community stood strong and insisted that gender-identity remain in the bill. They refused to amend the bill to gain votes as they wanted Iowans who identify as transgender to have legal protections.

This amendment removes some of those protections. It says that individuals who depend on Medicaid, cannot access gender-affirming surgery”

Transgender Iowans are your friends, neighbors, colleagues, your children’s friends….. They are veterans, lawyers, doctors, teachers, Democrats and yes they are Republicans.

Ronan sent me a study from Essen University Hospital that found that gender surgery improves quality of life. When quality of life improves transgender people are less depressed, enjoy improved relationships with their family and friends, and can make a living.  In this study, 71% of the participants reported feeling very satisfied with the “optical and functional results of the surgery.

This attack on health care for transgender Iowans goes against the recommendations of the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Assoc, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

This is motivated by cruelty and ignorance. Gender assigning surgery is life saving. Transgender people are Iowans. Shame on you! Ladies and gentleman of the house, fix Medicaid, assure Iowans have quality health care, and for the sake of the people of Iowa, please vote no on this amendment.