Wisconsin has restored coverage for gender confirmation surgery for the state’s transgender employees.
The state’s Group Insurance Board voted 5-4 on Wednesday to cover transition-related treatments for people who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria. The surgeries will start being covered starting Jan. 1, reports the Associated Press.
“What we’re talking about is the improved health and well-being of our members for no cost,” board member Herschel Day, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, said. Day added that providing the coverage shouldn’t impact premiums.
The board had previously approved coverage for gender confirmation surgery in 2016, but rescinded its decision in 2017 after receiving political pressure from Republican Gov. Scott Walker, a longtime opponent of LGBTQ rights.
Last year, a state consultant claimed that providing the coverage or other transition-related treatments would cost about $100,000 to $250,000 annually, assuming that two to five individuals were to pursue the surgery.
According to the AP, UnitedHealthcare, which is starting a Medicare Advantage program for state workers and retirees, agreed with the decision to cover the surgery. The company told the board that the state’s refusal to cover such procedures would cause the company to be out of compliance with federal Medicare rules.
Last year, the state was sued by the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin on behalf of two transgender employees at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who complained after they were denied coverage for surgical costs, even though their doctors had confirmed that the surgery was considered medically necessary.
One of the plaintiffs, Alina Boyden, was forced to forego gender confirmation surgery, while the second, Shannon Andrews, was forced to pay $21,000 in out-of-pocket expenses. Both women claimed that the denial of coverage violated their rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and under several other federal laws prohibiting discrimination based on sex.
A coalition of community leaders, journalists, LGBTQ organizations, and celebrities called out The New York Times for its flawed and biased coverage of issues affecting the transgender community, and for spreading misinformation about the topic in order to appeal to conservative readers and influencers.
In an open letter to the influential newspaper's standards editor Philip Corbett, more than 180 trans, nonbinary and gender-nonconforming Times contributors, key celebrity allies, and more than 65 member-organizers at the Freelance Solidarity Project (the digital media division of the National Writers Union), decried the paper's recent coverage of trans, nonbinary and gender-nonconforming people and related issues.
A transgender woman was verbally attacked and harassed while filming herself during a livestream at a restaurant in San Francisco -- capturing the type of abuse to which transgender people are often subjected.
Lilly Contino, a trans content creator, was dining with her dog at the Cheesecake Factory in San Francisco's Union Square while live-streaming a conversation with her followers when an unidentified woman -- who does not appear on camera -- began harassing her, reports the UK-based newspaper The Independent.
"You know I'm a TERF, right? Trans-eccentric radical feminist," the woman, who seems to be intoxicated based on her voice, says off-camera.
A new Harry Potter-themed video game features the franchise's first-ever transgender character -- an especially noteworthy development, given Harry Potter series author J.K. Rowling's comments about transgender identity.
The Hogwarts Legacy video game, which reimagines the Wizarding World universe created by Rowling in the novels as a 19th-century role-playing game, was released earlier today, Friday, Feb. 10.
According to Game Revolution, the game features the character of Sirona Ryan, a transgender witch who owns the Three Broomsticks pub in Hogsmeade village.
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