Marti Abernathey

The Blue and Yellow Stepchild

Filed By Marti Abernathey | September 20, 2007 10:58 AM | comments

Filed in: The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Corporate Equality Index, HRC, insurance

Every year around this time I start seeing the GLBT media get in a feeding frenzy about the HRC's Corporate Equality Index (CEI). Story after story is told of how American corporations are getting better and better for GLBT Americans.

That may be true for GLB Americans, but the transgender part of the index is fatally flawed. The transgender wellness benefits defined in the 2c component include:

1. counseling by a mental health professional

2. pharmacy benefits covering hormone therapy

3. medical visits to monitor the effects of hormone therapy and other associated lab procedures.

4. medically necessary surgical procedures such as hysterectomy or short-term disability leave for surgical procedures

A company only needs to give ONE of these benefits to get the five points. What does that mean in a practical way? Nick Gorton MD explains it this way:

"Let's say you are Dominos Pizza and you get the HRC CEI index survey to fill out. One question asks you if provide "medically necessary surgical procedures (i.e. hysterectomy)". Then it asks you if you exclude transgender employees from this benefit. If you state that you don't exclude transgender employees then you get 5 points on item 2.c (#4) on the CEI. So lets say your policy is that if a transgender man has invasive cervical cancer that your insurance will actually (shock and horror!) pay for his hysterectomy rather than condemning him to death for an untreated cancer. Well then heeeeeey! All of a sudden you are hella transgender friendly, Dominos. (And yes, Dominos got that.... Christian-Fundamentalist funding Dominos offers transgender benefits.)

Since last year HRC has modified the question to:

Do insurance plans available to your general work force cover the following treatments and, if so, is there at least one company-sponsored insurance plan that does not exclude coverage for medically-necessary treatment related to gender dysphoria or gender reassignment?

While that is a slight improvement, if the company only gives time off for the employee for surgery, they still get the full five points. Companies like Microsoft, General Motors, IBM, and Eastman Kodak will get the same grade as Dominos, even though they comprehensively cover (they cover parts a, b, and c, including sex reassignment surgery).

Why won't HRC change this policy? Most likely, it's because they don't want to see lower scores for corporations that received a 100 percent rating. It could also be that with that new criteria HRC, NGLTF, and other national GLBT organizations wouldn't get a 100% in their own index. The excuse used in the past was that it was too expensive to cover transgender surgery, but the city of San Francisco has proven that to be false. If they are going to use that excuse, I wish they'd explain how that's any different than the cost of domestic partner benefits?

hrcstepchild.gifWhatever the reason, it's time that the CEI is revamped. If they're going to include us in their mission statement, then they need to include us in their activism and advocacy (and insurance policies). The Human Rights Campaign (and any other organization GLBT organization that includes us in their mission statement) needs to stop treating us like their stepchild.

Cross posted from

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The entire report remains a fraud, just like the three before it, because HRC willfully ignores the fact that members of the family behind 100%-rated Coors are still actively engaged in the most virulent arms of the antigay industry.

"HRC Foundation employs several methods to rate businesses. A team of researchers investigates and cross-checks the policies and practices of the rated businesses and the implications of those policies and practices for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender workers, including
any connections with organizations that engage in anti-GLBT activities. Employers are not rated until all appropriate information has been gathered and verified to the extent possible."

Sure they aren't. Look for the Brooklyn Bridge to be on sale in the HRC store soon, too.

The HRC fails to fully and enthusiastically support the BT side of the GLBT spectrum. Colour me surprised.

I agree. It is disgusting when the organizations that supposedly stand up for "our community" won't value and encourage equal rights and protections for transpeople. Way to be inclusive...


It has always been that way.
HRC is a fraud and a sick joke on transfolk.

Take care

First, thanks for taking this item, Marti! I'm glad someone posted about it!

Second, I think that there's more wrong with that study than just this section, although this part of the survey is glaring. I know of people who've worked for companies who provide DP ben's on paper, but if you ask for them, well, it's another story. They'll say "We don't really know that he's your DP", etc., in other words, they're just plain not going to give them out.

Same thing with anti-discrimination policies - it's easy to say, easy to put that on paper, but I wonder how often a gay man is just "not one of the guys", or a lesbian just doesn't "have that drive." I also wonder how many people leave a job because of harassment by coworkers that supervisors do nothing to stop.

Job discrimination is a whole lot more subtle and pernicious than what can be picked up on a survey filled out by the top execs, and to reduce it to company policies, well, that just makes it all that much harder for actual discrimination to get noticed.

The enabling root of job discrimination
Is At Will Employment.
Until the so called activists adress that
There will always be job discrimination because
Your employer doesn't have to give you a reason
When he or she gives you the boot.

I don't Anybody addressing that.

Take care

Amen to Sue for bringing up "At-Will Employment." While Indiana used to be one of the few states to have that ill-concieved monstrosity of legislation, now almost every state has it.

I was fired from a job once and when I asked why, was told - literally - "You know why." And that's all I got. To this day I still don't know; I suspect but can't know for sure.

Well Bil you have found the usefulness of anti-discrimination laws when they are built on the sand of at will employment.

In a Constitutional government where the accuser must prove guilt at will employment emasculates work discrimination laws.

Take care