Tag Archives: health insurance

Free Resource for KC-Area Transpeople – Learn About Health Insurance

TTI_InsuranceI was very pleased to receive a notice from Caroline Gibbs of the Transgender Institute that a special free presentation is being offered to the transgender community on how to enroll and navigate through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) website. Those who attend will receive a 16-page Healthcare Guide to assist them, and hopefully receive answers to their questions on how to gain benefits from the changing landscape of health insurance in the United States.

The event is Saturday, October 4, 2014, from 10:00-12:00. To reserve a spot, please mail Caroline Gibbs at caroline@transinstitute.org.

Hobby Lobby, Transgender Employees, and Lawsuits

transwoman Meggan Sommerville fights Hobby Lobby

Meggan Sommerville is at the heart of a lawsuit you’ll want to follow.

With the recent court case involving Hobby Lobby and its desire not to cover certain kinds of birth control because of its owners Christian beliefs, you might think that Hobby Lobby also has issues with transgender employees.

You would be right. And, oddly enough, partially wrong.

Meggan Sommerville is a Chicago writer whose blog Transgirl at the Cross explores her personal Christian faith and her life as a transgender woman. She is also an employee of 16 years at Hobby Lobby, and went through her transition while working there. She was not fired, her personnel records were updated to indicate her gender as a female, and her health insurance covers her hormones.

All isn’t great in the land of hobbies, though. Many of her medical appointments are not covered. While most of Meggan’s co-workers are supportive of her, a few will not use the correct pronouns. And as for the Hobby Lobby store she works in, they won’t allow her to use the women’s restroom. Meggan has to wait until no customers are around and duck into the men’s room as quickly as possible to avoid anyone seeing her when she comes back out.

It seems that Hobby Lobby is only willing to support her as a female employee up to some invisible point that they have determined without giving any full explanation of what it is.

So Meggan has done what I hope all transgender employees would do when faced with half-hearted attempts at support: she filed a complaint to the Illinois Department of Human Rights. Her case was initially dismissed but is again pending before the Illinois Human Rights Commission.

Just as the issue of birth control, “Christian corporation” rights, and religious objections to non-discrimination policies are all again on the table because of last week’s Supreme Court ruling, Meggan’s case against Hobby Lobby could have far-reaching effects when it is resolved. Keep your eye on this one. It could mean the difference in how transmen and transwomen are treated during a transition at their workplace in the near future.

In Which Una is Exasperated by One of the Most Disgusting Editorials She’s Recently Read


Where do I even begin with an editorial such as this? The majesty of the ignorance, prejudice, and fear was so overwhelming that I was just stunned. After reading the title “Taxpayers to pay for tranny grannies,” I picked my jaw up off the floor and I tried to find who wrote it. But the author refused to give their name, instead hiding behind the editorial banner of The Washington Times and giving it the newspaper’s imprimatur.

There is no way to sugar-coat this editorial – it’s disgusting. It’s like something Rush Limbaugh would write just after having been given a power-wedgie from Laverne Cox. It’s sort of a Twilight Zone editorial, the sort of thing one would expect to be scrawled on the underside of a toilet seat. I’ve seen more intelligent musings written by a highly trained gibbon. Once while at graduate school I saw a drunken frat pledge standing by the fountain at KU, dressed only in his socks and tighty-whities, screaming out an acapella version of “Stand by Your Man” – and that made more sense than this editorial.

From the very first paragraph we read of the “lavender lobby,” and by the 4th sentence we are being deliberately misgendered. It compares getting necessary medical treatment with Botox and a toupee. By the fourth paragraph it makes the “even to prisoners” argument which has been long rejected by the Supreme Court, while trotting out the spectre of Chelsea Manning (and deliberately refuses to use her new, real, legal name). It also makes a factual error, Christine Jorgensen “discarded[sic] his[sic] manhood[sic]” in 1952, not 1951. The following quote should tell you a bit of the tone.

The special treatment only applies to homosexuals — even if they’re criminals. The Pentagon has been discussing transferring custody of Bradley Manning, the convicted leaker of national security secrets, from Fort Leavenworth to the Federal Bureau of Prisons and a civilian prison where he can get government hormone therapy to live the rest of his 35 years or so behind bars as “Chelsea.”

This surgery is not a medically necessary procedure, but an indulgence. The homosexual organizations represent only a tiny percentage of the population, but gays typically have a larger than average disposable income, so they could easily set up a charitable foundation to pay for sex-change operations for those who can’t afford them. However, this would cut into political fundraising. The Center for Responsive Politics counts a dozen prominent homosexual activists who together raised $2.7 million for Mr. Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.

I can’t even go on. There is a link below; I recommend you don’t bother clicking on it. The Washington Times has now, in my opinion, crossed over the boundary line to be a hate-based media organization when it comes to the subject of my people. Don’t give them one more cent of advertising revenue by clicking on the link below.

EDITORIAL: Taxpayers to pay for tranny grannies – Washington Times.

HHS Expected To Lift Blanket Medicare Ban On Sex-Reassignment Surgery Soon

I reported last December that the Department of Health and Human Services was re-evaluating the ban on transgender sexual reassignment surgery (SRS), and the possibility that it could be covered by Medicare.

This update reports the opinion that an end to the ban is going to be announced “soon,” but no timetable has been announced. The ban, which has been in place since 1981, is long overdue to be scrapped. A small number of insurance companies have already seen the light and started making transgender treatment a standard part of their group plans, although individual companies sometimes negotiate the coverage out to reduce their costs. Should Medicare begin to cover SRS, it will be very politically difficult for companies to continue to ban coverage.

HHS Expected To Lift Blanket Medicare Ban On Sex-Reassignment Surgery Soon.

NEWS: Obamacare Insurers MUST Cover Same-Sex Spouses

This is more huge news which will have an impact on many trans couples. Yesterday the Obama Administration issued a directive that health insurers who participate in the Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges must cover the spouses of same-sex couples, even if they state in which they live does not recognize their marriage! You can read a few more details at the link below.

Business: Washington Post Business Page, Business News.

Good News! D.C. Mayor Expands Trans Health Care to Cover SRS!

More and more lately, Washington D.C. seems to be cleaning up its image and its actions. In this latest news, by executive order of the Mayor of Washington D.C., all health insurance companies serving those who live and work in the District must offer coverage for transgender-related health services, including surgery!

One would assume that standard deductibles and co-pays still exist as they would for any surgery, and the insurance company can steer you towards specific surgeons who they feel are “economical.” Moreover, this executive order does not take effect until the next renewal period for all policies, giving time for Congress to interfere, should it choose to do so.  However, for many transgender folks too poor to have their much-needed SRS, which has been proven to be beneficial to their quality of life, this is a hopeful godsend.

D.C. Mayor Makes Major Move Expanding Trans Health Care | Advocate.com.

The Dominoes Are Falling…Connecticut Directs Insurers to Provide Trans Coverage, including SRS

transgender_caduceus_insert_public_domainConnecticut joins Colorado and a few other states and cities in requiring that SRS must be covered for transsexual patients!

Folks, this is huge news – most of you know I’m a serious student of transgender history, and when I think of the transpeople in the 60’s who were threatened with prison for having SRS, the ones in the 70’s and 80’s who had to travel to backwater clinics in third-world countries, and the rest of us since then who have had to scrimp, save, indebt, beg, borrow, steal, or prostitute ourselves to afford this necessary medical care – it makes me emotional.

Just imagine, a world where all of us can be eligible for SRS under health insurance. A rising tide which will life all out boats, in making more and more transpeople happier, healthier, and more productive in making our new American way of life!

The Connecticut Insurance Department is directing all health insurance companies operating in the state to provide coverage of mental health counseling, hormone therapy, surgery and other treatments related to a patient’s gender transition. – Courant.com.

CDC Reverses Discriminatory Breast Cancer Screening Rule for Trans People

One might think that this was going to be a given, based on the fact we have a relatively trans-friendly President. However, the CDC has a long history of being largely independent of Administrative action, sort of like the Federal Reserve. So I have a feeling that this was a genuine effort at change, and a genuine positive endorsement of transgender acceptance and rights.

This also makes it much more difficult for a health insurer to try to discriminate against a transperson, since their excuse before was that the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, didn’t allow it, thus they didn’t have to either.

And hey, let this serve as a reminder to all transpeople out there – get your breasts examined. Your risk of breast cancer is elevated on estradiol, and especially if you take progesterone, and even transmen who have had mastectomies can still develop breast cancer, as it’s difficult to remove all of the tissue.

CDC Reverses Discriminatory Breast Cancer Screening Rule for Trans People | Advocate.com.

Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins Claims Gay, Transgender People Will Weaken Health Care System

Tony Perkins FRC
So it’s the FRC again, continuing their multi-pronged attack on the LGBT population. In their latest salvo, they now manage to blame Obama for working with “transvestites” to load down the health care system with “higher risk” people.

Missing, of course, is FRC’s proposal to apply Christian charity to help out uninsured LGBT persons…

Seriously, it’s almost like they’re a parody act. Nonetheless, they are a parody act with money and power behind them.

FRC’s Tony Perkins Claims Gay, Transgender People Will Weaken Health Care System – On Top Magazine | Gay news & entertainment.

BIG NEWS – HHS to Reevaluate Ban on Gender-Confirming Surgeries

For a very long time, gender-confirming surgery (what us old-timers know as sexual reassignment surgery, or “SRS”) has been banned from Medicare and Medicaid coverage. Most private insurance companies point to the Medicare/Medicaid restrictions for their restrictions, and this is why this is big news.

On December 13, 2013, the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced they will review the ban on SRS. And there is some serious hope – under the current Administration, at least – that this review will lead to either a removal of the SRS ban, or else allow SRS under certain circumstances.

If that does come about, private insurers under Obamacare may be implicitly mandated to cover SRS, and it could lead to an explicit mandate before long. The questions and logistics will still need some work, however. Which doctors will accept Medicaid/Medicare, how much will they be reimbursed, will private insurance companies actually follow suit – these and many other questions will soon require answers.

And you can bet your bottom dollar that if this comes to pass, Republican opponents of the Affordable Care Act will use this as a public relations level: “ZOMG! Obamacare is paying for people to get their dicks chopped off! Death panels! Deeeeeeeeeeeeeath panels!”

HHS to Reevaluate Ban on Gender-Confirming Surgeries | Advocate.com.

Health Co-op First to Rule Against Trans Exclusions

This is very welcome news, although the insurer, Colorado HealthOP, is quite small. But recent victories with Kaiser and Blue Cross are pointing the way – within 5 years, I would not be surprised if at least 25% of employers will have insurance policies underwriting transsexual surgeries. Hey, I’d love to guess more, but I’m a realist.

Health co-op first to rule that transgender exclusions are wrong | Health Policy Solutions.

Transgender Teen Settles Landmark Health Case

More big news for us – transman Miki Alexander Manigault takes on health insurer Kaiser, wins a settlement out of court, and then Colorado steps in and orders all health insurers in the state to stop discrimination against transgender persons.

Thank you Miki for your successful crusade! Now California, Oregon, DC, Vermont, and Colorado prohibit trans discrimination.

Transgender teen settles landmark health case | Health Policy Solutions.