Transition-Related Health Care

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The kinds of health care associated with gender transition have too often been misunderstood as cosmetic, experimental or simply unnecessary. Yet there is medical consensus that hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgery (SRS) are medically necessary for many transgender people. It’s quite clear now that a person’s gender identity—one’s inner sense of being male or female—is deep-seated and cannot be changed, and therefore that this transition-related health care can be crucial.

The courts have come a long way on this issue in recent years, citing decades of medical data to find in more and more cases that it’s discrimination not to provide transition-related health care as readily as other medically necessary treatment.

The problem is that most public and private insurance companies are still behind the times. Many cite cost, even though that hasn’t turned out to be an issue at all for the growing number of employers now providing coverage. Often the real hesitation is based on a mixture of anti-transgender prejudice and ideas about such care that are out of sync with modern medical thinking.

February 1, 2011