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SLO trans rights advocacy group sees flaws in CA ban on state-funded travel to Iowa

Posted at 5:50 AM, Sep 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-18 10:09:19-04

Following the recent passage of a law that removes healthcare protections for transgender people, Iowa is being added to the list of states where California-funded and sponsored travel is prohibited.

CA Attorney General Xavier Becerra ordered the restriction and said it would take effect Oct. 4.

"California has taken an unambiguous stand against discrimination and government actions that would enable it," Becerra said in a press release. "That’s why my office is adding Iowa to the list of states subject to state-funded or sponsored travel restrictions.”

California's stance offers a bit of comfort to organizations like San Luis Obispo's Gay and Lesbian Alliance, which aims to promote the well being of the LGBT community.

"We need to tell these states that trans rights, LGBT rights are human rights," GALA Exec. Dir. Michelle Call said. "The way we do that is speaking with our dollars as people and as states."

When Iowa legislators voted in the Spring to repeal protections for transgender patients access to "gender-affirming care," democrats spoke out.

"This amendment takes away the civil rights of transgender people," Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell (D-Iowa) said during discussion on the floor. "A trans person transitions every day to be the gender they know themselves to be."

The vote resulted in Iowa being added to the blacklist of California's state-financed and sponsored travel, a list that includes Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, South Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.

Call said she appreciates California's effort to defend transgender health care, but she said the restriction may be shortsighted.

"I think the opportunity for a free exchange of ideas is really important and if they can't go there, they can't really bring that message," Call said.

Call said her husband, a Cal Poly professor, had to pay out of pocket last year to attend a conference in Alabama.

"While he was there he met with a group of LGBT young folks and they exchanged ideas and he got to hear about how it is growing up being gay, lesbian, trans in a state like Alabama," Call said. "That's the kind of exchange that won't happen if people that work in California can't travel to those states on state money."

The travel restriction applies to state agencies, departments, boards, and commissions, as well as the California University System.

Cal Poly Spokesman Matt Lazier said he does not foresee the Iowa travel restriction causing any impacts to the university.

There are a few exceptions to the travel restriction, including attendance of meetings required to maintain grant funding, contractual deadlines established before January 2017, and to comply with requests by the federal government.