Advocating for Insurance Coverage of Your Medical Needs

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Transgender Rights Toolkit: A Legal Guide for Trans People and Their Advocates

If you are denied insurance coverage for transition-related health care, consider taking these steps:

  1. Get a copy of your health insurance policy to see if there is any discriminatory exclusion language. If so, find out what the process is to appeal a denial of coverage. You will likely need to provide written documentation from your doctor that this treatment is deemed medically necessary for you.

  2. Use official statements from any of the following five organizations as backup for your argument that transition-related health care is not cosmetic or elective and should be covered:

    American Medical Association

    According to the AMA: “An established body of medical research demonstrates the effectiveness and medical necessity of mental health care, hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgery as forms of therapeutic treatment for many people diagnosed with GID … Therefore, Be it Resolved, that the AMA supports public and private health insurance coverage for treatment of gender identity disorder.”

    American Psychological Association

    The “APA recognizes the efficacy, benefit and medical necessity of gender transition treatments for appropriately evaluated individuals and calls upon public and private insurers to cover these medically necessary treatments.”

    American Academy of Family Physicians

    In 2007, an AAFP Commission declared that the association has a policy opposing any form of patient discrimination and stated its opposition to the exclusion of transgender health care:“RESOLVED, That the American Academy of Family Physicians endorse payment by third party payors to provide transsexual care benefits for transgender patients.”

    National Association of Social Workers

    “NASW supports the rights of all individuals to receive health insurance and other health coverage without discrimination on the basis of gender identity, and specifically without exclusion of services related to transgender or transsexual transition…in order to receive medical and mental health services through their primary care physician and the appropriate referrals to medical specialists, which may include hormone replacement therapy, surgical interventions, prosthetic devices, and other medical procedures.”

    World Professional Association for Transgender Health

    WPATH found that decades of experience with the Standards of Care show gender transitions and related care to be accepted, good medical practice and effective treatment. In a 2008 clarification, WPATH stated:

    "Sex reassignment, properly indicated and performed as provided by the Standards of Care, has proven to be beneficial and effective in the treatment of individuals with transsexualism, gender identity disorder, and/or gender dysphoria. Sex reassignment plays an undisputed role in contributing toward favorable outcomes, and comprises Real Life Experience, legal name and sex change on identity documents, as well as medically necessary hormone treatment, counseling, psychotherapy, and other medical procedures...

    "The medical procedures attendant to sex reassignment are not ‘cosmetic’ or ‘elective’ or for the mere convenience of the patient. These reconstructive procedures are not optional in any meaningful sense, but are understood to be medically necessary for the treatment of the diagnosed condition."

  3. Contact Lambda Legal’s Help Desk (toll-free: 866-542-8336 or