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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 25, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 52
Trans man sues Minnesota for surgery
Section One
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Trans man sues Minnesota for surgery

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A Transgender man says he will sue the state of Minnesota to have his gender reassignment surgery covered by state-sponsored insurance.

While some Trans people elect not to have surgery, Evan Thomas says the procedure is necessary for his transition.

'For me this is an essential next step, and my doctors know this; we all know this, and at the same time here is the state just slamming this door in my face and saying no, you have to stop here; if you're in pain, that's just too bad,' Thomas told KSTP News.

'Without surgery, I can't escape the dissonance between my body as it is and the way my brain insists it should be,' he explained in a blog post.

'If I had a flat, firm chest instead of the weight and softness of breasts, I could hold my head up and stand tall and proud. I could look in the mirror and be at peace with my own image. I could, maybe, learn to love my whole self.'

Currently Minnesota offers two state-sponsored insurance plans, MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance. Both offer hormone therapy and counseling, but not gender reassignment surgery.

Surgery had been covered by the state of Minnesota until 2005, when state-sponsored plans dropped it. Legislation has been introduced to restore coverage for surgery.

Thomas legally changed his name and gender this year, after starting on hormones in 2013. His case is being handled by the ACLU.

Washington state coverage
Only 10 states and the District of Columbia offer coverage for gender reassignment surgery through public health insurance.

According to the Washington State Insurance Commissioner, 'Washington state law does not mandate coverage of sexual reassignment surgery.'

However, the Insurance Commissioner's website explains, 'gender dysphoria...is the only condition for which sexual reassignment surgery is prescribed. Therefore, it is [the Insurance Commissioner's] position that a specific exclusion for this surgery would be an impermissible discriminatory exclusion based upon an enrollee's identification as transgendered, in violation of [the Washington Law Against Discrimination] and the [Affordable Care Act].

'It would also constitute an unreasonable restriction on treatment, in violation of RCW 48.46.030(3)(d) and RCW 48.44.020(2)(d). Insurers may require that the surgery be designated medically necessary before coverage will be provided.'

In Washington state, the Insurance Commissioner's office investigates complaints of discrimination in health care insurance.

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