Judge Orders Minnesota to Lift Ban on Funding Gender Transition Surgery

This week a district court judge in Minnesota ruled that the state’s Medical Assistance program must lift its decade long ban on funding procedures related to gender transition, calling it a constitutionally protected aspect of transgender individuals’ fundamental right to privacy.

While the program covered hysterectomies, mastectomies, vaginoplasty and phalloplasty, it did not pay for those procedures if they were requested as a part of gender transition.

The case was brought by the ACLU on behalf of OutFront and Evan Thomas, a 64 year old transgender man who suffers from anxiety and depression related to his gender dysphoria.  Thomas binds his breasts but, due to the health consequences associated with long-term chest compression, sought out surgery for a double mastectomy.

It was then that he learned that gender transition procedures were not covered by the state’s Medical Assistance program, despite similar coverage being offered by private health insurers and federal Medicare. Now he will be able to get the medical care he needs.

The Affordable Care Act attempted to remedy such situations by forbidding healthcare discrimination on the basis of sex, though a number of conservative states have argued that this infringes on religious rights.

Many states are also opposing the Obama administration’s expansion of Title IX protections to include discrimination against transgender students. The ACLU filed a motion last month to intervene in another Minnesota case that was filed by a group of parents in an attempt to ban a transgender high school student from using the locker room matching her gender identity.  The ACLU argues that the requested ban is in direct violation of the US Constitution and Title IX’s prohibition of sex discrimination.


Rewire 11/17/16; Star Tribune 11/17/16; Feminist Majority Foundation 10/14/16

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