Transgender State Employees Win Health Care Coverage

by David Card  |  August 28, 2014

Transgender State Employees Win Health Care Coverage The transgender pride flag.

Transgender state employees in Washington state, on July 31, celebrated a vote by the Public Employee Benefits Board (PEBB) that ended discriminatory exclusions in the state’s health care coverage.

“I applaud the decision … to eliminate insurance coverage exclusions targeted strictly at transgender employees,” said Cherilyn Tate, a member of Local 793. “This decision will finally bring the insurance provided by the state for public employees into line with Washington state's non-discrimination law. This is a good solid second step that I am proud to have had the respect and support of my brothers and sisters throughout AFSCME and specifically WFSE Council 28.”

Greg Devereux, executive director of the Washington Federation of State Employees/AFSCME Council 28 and PEBB board member, called the denial of coverage unfair. “No one should be denied health care coverage because of who they are,” he said.

According to the Coalition for Inclusive Healthcare, nearly all insurance plans in Washington state exclude coverage for transition-related medical treatment, even when that same treatment, such as mental health care, cancer screenings or hormone therapy, is covered for non-transgender people.

The board’s unanimous vote means transgender employees will gain access to hormone treatments, mental health care and other nonsurgical treatments as early as Jan.1, 2015. Surgeries will be covered next July.

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