How to get help for—and support—transgender Iowans

Iowans LGBTQ rights outside the Captiol on March 5, 2023. Photo by Ty Rushing/Starting Line

By Nikoel Hytrek

November 22, 2023

Max Mowitz started the Iowa Trans Mutual Aid Fund in 2021 because they saw a need they knew they could fill.

“I was connected with so many mutual aid organizations that were doing incredible work, especially after the protests of 2020,” they said. “And I really saw a profound need for this kind of care and financial support for folks because, as we know, trans and non-binary people are disproportionately represented in homeless and houseless populations.”

The fund provides financial aid for a variety of forms of gender affirming care. Mowitz listed hormone replacement therapy, surgery, therapy fees, voice training, name change fees and help traveling out of state as some examples.

To access the fund, Iowans should submit a short application during the first week of the month. Applications will reopen the first week of December, and are intentionally low-barrier.

“The only barrier is just one phone call, to make sure that they are a real person,” Mowitz said.

Supporters can choose to donate once or become a recurring donor. They currently accept Venmo, written checks, or recurring donations through ActBlue.

“Mutal aid is very much based on solidarity, not charity,” Mowitz said. “We are neighbors helping neighbors.”

@iowastartingline

In honor of Trans Day of Remembrance, Iowa Trans Mutual Aid fund bord member Max Mowitz reminds us what the day is meant for. Read more at the link in our bio. #iowa #iowanews #iowans #transdayofremembrance #lgbtq

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Gender-affirming clothing

The mutual aid fund may focus primarily on gender affirming care, but it isn’t the only organization or group that exists in Iowa to serve transgender, nonbinary and gender-diverse Iowans. And there are other types of needs, beyond financial, being provided.

In Iowa there are several organizations and groups that provide resources for trans, nonbinary and gender-diverse Iowans—from financial to cosmetic to health care—and you don’t have to look far to find one or get involved.

Common Love Iowa is a monthly pop-up providing gender-affirming clothes for trans, nonbinary and gender diverse Iowans to choose from. It’s working on partnering with the Iowa Trans Mutual Aid Fund. The pop-up also helps people get fitted for binders.

“Iowa Trans Mutual Aid Fund is trying to figure out how much money we can allocate to them, to kind of help with the cost of binders and those gender affirming care items,” said Jo Allen, a board member for the Iowa Trans Mutual Aid Fund.

Clothing popups happen in other cities too. Mowitz specifically mentioned Iowa City and Dubuque.

Allen said they love seeing all of the support that comes out for the community, and they just want people to keep showing that love.

“[All I want to say is] just for people to continue supporting the loved ones around them in whatever capacity. That is, just showing up for trans folks, queer folks, everyone, because we’re all going through a hard time right now, and I think we just all need a little bit more love,” they said.

Other ways to support trans and nonbinary Iowans

There are organizations across the state built to support trans and nonbinary Iowans, too many to list here completely. Here are a few, as well as links to bigger lists.

One Iowa, LGBTQ advocacy organization

Iowa Safe Schools, provides support and resources for LGBTQ youth

UCS Health Care—Des Moines, provides LGBTQIA medical care and psychiatric services

Queer Youth Center—Des Moines, gatherings for LGBTQ youth.

Transistors—Iowa City, a support group for trans adults

Lavendar Legal Center—Iowa City, provides direct legal representation, advocacy and referrals

Queer Health Advocacy—trained volunteers accompany and advocate for LGBTQ members of the community during medical appointments (https://trans-resources.org.uiowa.edu/iowa-city-resources)

Transformations Cedar Rapids—support group for trans and nonbinary people

GLBTQA Youth Group—support group for people 12-18 to hang out with peers in a safe setting

Dubuque LGBTQ+ Resource Network

Youth Support Group—Dubuque

Adult Support Group—Dubuque

Resources Collected by One Iowa

Resources for Students

Resources for Families

Iowa Transgender Resources

  • Nikoel Hytrek

    Nikoel Hytrek is Iowa Starting Line’s longest-serving reporter. She covers LGBTQ issues, abortion rights and all topics of interest to Iowans. Her biggest goal is to help connect the dots between policy and people’s real lives. If you have story ideas or tips, send them over to [email protected].

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