Starbucks has announced that it plans to provide transgender employees with comprehensive healthcare coverage, including procedures most insurers exclude.
The coffee giant will now cover top surgery, facial feminization and hair transplants for their baristas, adding to the gender affirmation surgeries they have been covering since 2012.
Ron Crawford, vice president of benefits at Starbucks, said they he hopes their new coverage will provide a model for other companies to follow.
“The approach was driven not just by the company’s desire to provide truly inclusive coverage, [but] by powerful conversations with transgender partners about how those benefits would allow them to truly be who they are,” Crawford said in a Starbucks Newsroom article. “I view this as a diagnosis with a treatment path. You have to think of it from an equity perspective.”
He added: “Nobody else is doing this. We would love to see more employers doing this.”
Starbucks sought help from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), consulting with them about adding transgender healthcare coverage into a new healthcare plan. Starbucks was apparently the first company to reach out to WPATH for this kind of assistance.
“Starbucks was not afraid to ask all the right questions and demand that people get the best possible care,” Jamison Green, former president of WPATH, said. “We produced a list of the most crucial benefits and those that are deemed problematic to insurance companies, such as facial feminization and electrolysis.”
Green added that many surgeries that are considered cosmetic are not optional for trans people, like electrolysis, which he said is “a life-saving procedure for trans women.”
Tate Buhrmester, a Starbucks partner and transgender male, applauded the company in the Newsroom article, saying Starbucks’ decision “makes trans people feel like they are people, like they matter and their health matters.”
“Starbucks is taking a stand and standing up for trans people and saying that our procedures aren’t just cosmetic – they are lifesaving. They’re affirming,” he said. “They’re vitally important to trans people and it’s not something just to be seen as a cosmetic procedure that’s optional, because for a lot of people, it’s not optional for them.”
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