Alex Blaze

Seattle Mayor Says Transitions Should Be Covered for Employees

Filed By Alex Blaze | May 12, 2011 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: GRS, mayor, McGinn, seattle, transgender

The Seattle LGBT Commission has an effective way of talking about how some healthcare providers deny medical treatment related to transitioning. seattle.jpgFrom The Slog:

When most of the city's approximately 10,000 employees seek mental health care, steroid treatments, or a variety of other services, they don't need to prove medical necessity to be covered under the city's employee benefits plan. But once an employee has been classified by the city's insurance carrier as transgender, those services are "universally denied," says the Seattle LGBT Commission in a letter to city officials. "First and foremost, transgender medical treatment is not cosmetic. It is necessary medical treatment. Psychological care, hormonal treatments, and surgical procedures are all medically necessary for transgender-identified individuals."

The Slog has quotes from several city officials, including the mayor, saying that they're looking into it.

While I'm a strong advocate of universal health care, guaranteed by the government either through nationalizing the health care system, creating a single payer system, or creating a highly regulated private/public health care system, this is one health care issue that can't just be solved by recognizing health care as a human right. That a progressive city like Seattle is still considering the issue while continuing to put that sort of medical care in a separate category to be denied, apart from other medical treatments that are assumed to be necessary until proven otherwise, shows that people have created an exemption for this care, either because of prejudice or a mistaken belief that it's merely cosmetic.

Still, going through a government body for health care produces statements like this instead of the more profitable "We'll never change" position a private insurer is enticed to take without pressure from large clients:

"This is a pretty modest issue compared to the significant issue we have of health care costs of the city as a whole," says [Mayor] McGinn. But he adds: "This is a fairness issue, it's not about costs."

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I think this is wonderful to bad such things were unknown when I had my surgery. Ok some were available but you had to be working for just the right company. Cause pay for surgery out of my pocket has taken the Retirement money saved over 10 years of teaching - 6k for early with draw. 20k grs 30k ffs and on and on electrolysis, Hormone therapy cost. Dr's fees for evaluation to have surgery .. comes to about 100k dollars sure would have been nice to have been employed threw transition and have some of the medical cost covered by Insurance. I might own my own home and have some money in the bank instead of were i am at now.. So a big hug for the mayor and the city of Seattle if they pass this..

Good for Mayor McGinn. Seattle is very LGBT-friendly with a huge population of homos and trans folk, so this is definitely a step in the right direction.

There will always be questions on how valid peoples' lives are, and factors other than hate (such as cost) that will be used to justify denying rights to someone. Notice I do not say lifestyle. That Seattle is addressing the issue, even in the context of a severely divided political state, is noteworthy. Sally Clark is an out lesbian on the city council and used to work (with former Seattle City Councilwoman and former Lifelong Director Tina Podlodowski) is noteworthy. There are members of the city council who clearly believe that this is not a "cosmetic" argument. That they are brave enough to work the tortuous political channels is laudable.

Seattle has always been ahead of the curve in caring for its citizens. It probably means it will take another fifty years before other parts of the country even try to talk about it.