Source: Essygie
Source: Essygie

The ACLU of Minnesota has filed a lawsuit on behalf of OutFront Minnesota and a plaintiff that challenges the state’s ban on transition-related health care services in public health insurance programs.

Minnesota law specifically forbids the state’s Medicaid program from covering gender confirmation surgical care for transgender people. The state covered such procedures until 2005 when legislators passed, and Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed, a health and human services omnibus bill that blocked the coverage. Currently, Medical Assistance, General Assistance Medical Care, and MinnesotaCare do not provide equitable health care for transgender Minnesotans.

The lawsuit targets the exclusion of transition-related surgical care. It is filed against Minnesota’s commissioner of the Department of Human Services.

The plaintiffs in the case are OutFront Minnesota, and Evan Thomas. According to a press release by the ACLU of Minnesota, Thomas is currently on Medical Assistance and was diagnosed with gender dysphoria. He began hormone treatment and legally changed his name, after battling depression all his life.

“A weight was lifted when I first began my gender transition and realized I didn’t have to pretend to be a woman anymore,” said Evan Thomas.

But, because he is on Medical Assistance, gender confirmation surgery is not an option.

“Being denied surgical treatment is harmful to my health and well-being every day I’m forced to live in this body,” he said.

Ten states and the District of Columbia cover transition-related surgical care in their public health programs.

The lawsuit states:

The legislature’s decision to exclude coverage was not based on any determination that the treatments were experimental or not medically necessary.An early draft of the statute affirmatively asserted that such services were “not medically necessary” but, at the urging of the Department of Human Services, the language was changedfrom “not medically necessary” to “not covered.” The Department urged the legislature to change the language because it was concerned that the assertion that transition-related surgery is not medically necessary could not be successfully defended in court.

Categorically excluding “sex reassignment surgery” from coverage under Medical Assistance can be explained only by animus toward, or moral disapproval of, transition-related surgery and/or transgender individuals who require transition-related surgery to treat gender dysphoria.

“Ultimately, we believe these bans are not about medicine or money, but about contempt for transgender people — which is not a permissible basis for legislating,” OutFront Minnesota said in a statement on Facebook.

Here’s a copy of the complaint:

Download (PDF, 63KB)

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Andy Birkey

Andy Birkey has written for a number of Minnesota and national publications. He founded Eleventh Avenue South which ran from 2002-2011, wrote for the Minnesota Independent from 2006-2011, the American Independent from 2010-2013. His writing has appeared in The Advocate, The Star Tribune, The Huffington Post, Salon, Cagle News Service, Twin Cities Daily Planet, TheUptake, Vita.mn and much more. His writing on LGBT issues, the religious right and social justice has won awards including Best Beat Reporting by the Online News Association, Best Series by the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and an honorable mention by the Sex-Positive Journalism awards.

1 COMMENT

  1. There are 40 States that exclude proper medical treatment for transgender people when there is no rational basis for found so. Those states are practicing hate for hates sake.

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