A Polk County jury has delivered an important win for transgender rights in Iowa, saying that the State of Iowa was wrong in denying Jesse Vroegh the use of men's restrooms and locker rooms at work. He was also denied medically necessary gender-affirming surgery coverage through his employer.
It's a historic victory, since the lawsuit was the first transgender rights case to be filed in Iowa district court since Iowa added gender identity protections to the Iowa Civil Rights Act back in 2007.
Jesse was previously employed as a nurse by the Iowa Department of Corrections. He filed the lawsuit after he was denied use of the men’s restrooms and locker rooms at work. He was also denied insurance coverage through his employer because he is transgender. The jury ruled that the state had engaged in sex and gender identity discrimination, which is prohibited by the Iowa Civil Rights Act.
Jesse expressed how grateful he is with the jury’s verdict. “Being an Iowan, I want to thank a jury, made up of my fellow Iowans, for their verdict. It means a lot for them to consider the facts of the case and determine that yes, I was discriminated against. It makes me happy and proud that they recognized that I should be treated equally by my employer and provided the health care coverage I needed.
“The whole process of has been difficult and emotionally very trying for me. My life has been put under a microscope because of this case. But I thought it was an important thing to do for the transgender Iowans who come after me. I hope this decision means that they will be treated fairly in the future.”