San Francisco becomes first US city to offer free trans surgery

Promising to stop transgender people from avoiding debts, the Californian city has voted to offer free operations

San Francisco becomes first US city to offer free trans surgery
10 November 2012

San Francisco is going to become the first US city to provide and cover the cost of sex reassignment surgeries.

The Californian city’s Health Commission has voted to create a program for treating transgender people fully, as reported by the Associated Press.

Barbara Garcia, Public Health Director, said San Francisco already provides transgender residents with hormones, counseling and routine health services, but stopped short of offering surgical procedures.

‘The community felt the exclusion on Healthy San Francisco was discriminatory and we wanted to change that as the first step,’ Garcia said.

San Francisco will now offer mastectomies (removal of the breasts), genital reconstructions and other surgeries recommended for some transgender people under the city’s 5-year-old universal health care plan.

Garcia said she hoped the program will begin running by late next year. However, she also stated her department needs to first study how many people it would serve, how much it would cost, who would perform the surgeries and where they would be performed.

Kathryn Steuerman, a member of a transgender health advocacy group in the city, said San Francisco’s latest move would help people to avoid going into debt to finance operations.

‘I am filled with hope and gratitude that we are achieving this level of support for the well-being of the transgender community,’ she said.

In 2001, San Francisco became the first US to cover sex reassignment surgeries for government employees.

Since last year, the number of major companies covering the cost of gender reassignment surgery for workers doubled.

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