Transgender State Employee Seeks Equality Under State Health Plan

by | Jul 26, 2016 | 0 comments

MILWAUKEE – The ACLU of Wisconsin filed a discrimination complaint today with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of Dr. Shannon Andrews, a cancer researcher at the University of Wisconsin Medical School, against the Medical School, the Group Insurance Board, and WPS Insurance, for denying her coverage for medically necessary gender confirmation surgery to treat her gender dysphoria.

The state’s employee health plans specifically exclude coverage of “procedures, services, and supplies related to surgery and sex hormones associated with gender reassignment.” This policy denies these individuals equal coverage of medically necessary treatment because of their sex, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Wisconsin’s Group Insurance Board recently announced that it would end its exclusion of coverage for gender dysphoria treatment starting January 2017, but this change comes too late for Dr. Andrews, while many other public and private employers in Wisconsin continue to discriminate against their transgender employees by offering insurance with exclusions similar to the one Dr. Andrews in challenging.

“Notwithstanding the medical community’s agreement about the medical necessity of treatment for some transgender individuals, many employers continue to offer health insurance coverage that specifically targets transgender people and denies them coverage for life-saving medical care,” said ACLU of Wisconsin Legal Director Larry Dupuis. “These exclusions arbitrarily target transgender people for discrimination by forcing them to pay out-of-pocket for medically necessary services.”

“To be singled out for a denial of coverage is hurtful and burdensome,” said Dr. Andrews.  “I’m glad the State of Wisconsin has finally announced its plan to end this discriminatory exclusion, but the change comes too late for me. Too many transgender people continue to face coverage denials just like this.”  Andrews added that “Many people can relate to paying into an insurance plan only to be told that the treatment they need is not covered. But when the reason you are denied coverage is because of who you are, it is even more painful.”

Dr. Andrews is represented by Dupuis and John A. Knight of the ACLU’s national Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and HIV Project.

For more than 90 years, the ACLU has been our nation’s guardian of liberty, working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country. The ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation, a non-profit, non-partisan, private organization whose 7,000 members support its efforts to defend the civil rights and liberties of all Wisconsin residents, is the Wisconsin Affiliate of the ACLU. For more on the ACLU of Wisconsin, visit our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @ACLUofWisconsin and @ACLUMadison.

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