Denying health insurance for gender-affirming medical care violates the Constitution and federal non-discrimination law, a federal court ruled.
The federal lawsuit was filed on behalf of Alina Boyden and Shannon Andrews, two trans women who were denied insurance to undergo gender-confirmation surgery in Wisconsin.
The decision concluded that there was no reason to exclude medically necessary care for transgender workers.
In his verdict, US District Judge William Conley also stated that some of the state’s arguments appear ‘unhinged from reality’.
‘Trans people are not fair game for discrimination’
Boyden is a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Andrews is a cancer researcher at the University of Wisconsin Medical School by the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Wisconsin.
The two employees complained after they were denied coverage for transition-related surgical costs. According to their doctors, the surgery was necessary to treat their gender dysphoria.
Boyden had to forego gender confirmation surgery. Moreover, Andrews had to pay $21,000 in out-of-pocket expenses when she went forward with surgery.
‘I’m pleased the court recognized that denying coverage for my medical care was sex discrimination’, Andrews said.
She explained she would have not been able to pay had she not had her retirement funds.
‘I, personally, was lucky to be in a position to have retirement funds and savings I could take out to fund my medical care, but had I been less fortunate I would not be alive today.’
She furthermore added: ‘Today, I feel vindicated the court recognized what the state did was wrong. I hope that this will be a powerful signal that trans people are not fair game for discrimination and that our lives and health are not a political football.’
Gender-confirmation surgery for state employees
The state’s Group Insurance Board also approved health insurance coverage for gender-confirmation surgery for state employees, effective January 1, 2019.
The ACLU views today’s decision as a step toward the protection of transgender people’s rights.
‘As the court found, depriving transgender people of access to transition-related care is sex discrimination,’ said Larry Dupuis. He is the legal director for the ACLU of Wisconsin.
‘We will continue our work until all transgender people can get the medical care they need, just like other people can.’