New Federal Plans Take Modest Step On Trans Health

November 13, 2014

The National Center for Transgender Equality expresses our disappointment that virtually every Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) plan has failed to update their coverage to stop excluding medically necessary healthcare for transgender federal employees. Disregarding OPM’s June 2013 invitation to insurance companies to drop discriminatory trans health exclusions, the majority of FEHB plans that were announced have retained these outdated and wrong trans health exclusions.

NCTE calls on the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to take stronger proactive steps to end discrimination against their transgender employees and cover trans health care needs. We urge federal employees who have been denied necessary care due to an exclusion to immediately file an EEO complaint with OPM.

In June 2013, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) provided notice to insurance companies who have Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) plans that OPM will no longer require insurance carriers to have blanket exclusions on trans-related care.  Advocates, including NCTE, celebrated this change, which gave insurance companies the opportunity to modernize their health benefits ahead of open season that begins this month.

Office_of_Personnel_Management_in_Washington_D.C._2012

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New WHO Report: Decriminalize Sex Work, Drug Use to Prevent Spread of HIV

July 31, 2014

A World Health Organization (WHO) report issued this month details guidelines to address policies on and treatment of HIV among vulnerable populations including transgender people. Notably, the report urges governments to decriminalize behaviors to more comprehensively and competently address the spread of HIV:

“Countries should work toward decriminalization of behaviours such as drug use/injecting, sex work, same-sex activity and nonconforming gender identities, and toward elimination of the unjust application of civil law and regulations against people who use/inject drugs, sex workers, men who have sex with men and transgender people​.

Improving policies that aid in HIV prevention and improve treatment requires, as the report notes, a combination of efforts. These efforts include making access to contraception, testing, and health facilities available to vulnerable populations; ending violence and stigma against vulnerable populations like transgender people and sex workers; and eliminating laws and policies that criminalize behaviors, which instill fear in these populations and deters individuals from seeking care.

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NCTE Commends Introduction of Health Equity and Accountability Act

July 30, 2014

The National Center for Transgender Equality commends the Congressional Tri-Caucus, comprised of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) for reintroducing the Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA) of 2014 on Capitol Hill today. The bill’s lead sponsor is Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), along with Congresswomen Barbara Lee (CA-13), and Donna Christiansen (VI).

The Act was first introduced in 2003 and has provided a principled, comprehensive, and strategic plan to eliminate health disparities and improve the health of communities of color. This 2014 version of the bill expands upon the original by providing more federal resources, policies, and infrastructure to eliminate health disparities, with a special emphasis on racial and ethnic minorities as well as subpopulations that face additional barriers due to gender identity and sexual orientation, immigration status, age, disability, sex, and proficiency in English.

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Win: Maryland Drops Insurance Exclusions for State Employees

July 22, 2014

The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) celebrates a Maryland resolution ending transgender health care exclusions for state employees. The case, brought forward by FreeState Legal, settles a complaint on behalf of Sailor Holobaugh, a transgender state employee who was denied medically necessary care. FreeState filed an Equal Employment Opportunity complaint as well as a complaint with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights, alleging the denial of health care coverage for a transition-related procedure was discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

Today’s settlement includes reimbursement for the employee’s surgery, but also requires removal of transition-related care exclusions from all state employee health plans. The settlement also creates a new comprehensive Gender Dysphoria Benefit in state employee health plans. The benefit covers all medically necessary transition-related treatment, including hormone replacement therapy and various surgical procedures.

“We applaud Maryland and the administration of Governor O’Malley for becoming the fourth state to ensure coverage of transition-related care for state employees, joining Massachusetts, Oregon and California, along with the District of Columbia,” said National Center for Transgender Equality Executive Director Mara Keisling.  The decision follows enactment of the Fairness for all Marylanders Act earlier this year, explicitly banning discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression in employment, housing, credit, and public accommodations.

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Ending Trans Exclusions: The Path To Inclusive Healthcare

June 18, 2014

Many of the existing inclusions for LGB—and particularly—T people have been hard won over the last 20 years. On Monday, June 16,  four major organizations met to take stock of the history and trajectory for LGBT inclusions in healthcare.

On the open community call, “With Medicare Done: How We Can Win the Rest,” NCTE’s Mara Keisling moderated the discussion among Jennifer Levi, Director of the Transgender Rights Project at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), Andrew Cray, Policy Analyst for LGBT Progress with Center for American Progress (CAP), and Beck Bailey, Deputy Director of the Workplace Project with Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

The discussion opened with a summary of the recent widespread progress, including the Obama administration’s announcement yesterday of his intention to issue an executive order to protect LGBT people employed by federal contractors and the Medicare decision issued 12 days ago.

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Seven UN Agencies: Surgery as a Condition of Legal Recognition is Forced Sterilization

June 6, 2014

WHO Report CoverIn “Eliminating forced, coercive and otherwise involuntary sterilization – An interagency statement,” the World Health Organization (WHO) and several other UN agencies have recognized that sterilization without the “full, free and informed consent” of an individual is a violation of that person’s human rights.

The UN Health (WHO), Human Rights (OHCHR), Women’s (UN Women), Development (UNDP), Population (UNFPA), Children’s (UNICEF), and AIDS (UNAIDS) agencies issuing the statement recognized that transgender people have been historically, and are currently, discriminated against through policies requiring surgery, often resulting in sterilization, in order to obtain legal documents reflecting their gender identity and other forms of legal and social recognition. As the statement observes, “According to international and regional human rights bodies and some constitutional courts, and as reflected in recent legal changes in several countries, these sterilization requirements run counter to respect for bodily integrity, self-determination and human dignity, and can cause and perpetuate discrimination against transgender and intersex persons.”

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New Report: Addressing the Criminalization of LGBT People and People with HIV

May 8, 2014

National Center for Transgender Equality Director of Policy, Harper Jean Tobin, participated yesterday in a panel discussion to mark the release of “A Roadmap for Change: Federal Policy Recommendations for Addressing the Criminalization of LGBT People and People with HIV.” This is a groundbreaking report examining the full scope of factors that contribute to disproportionate incarceration of LGBT and HIV-affected people and their abuse behind bars.

With growing bipartisan interest in addressing mass incarceration—for example, the proposed federal Smarter Sentencing Act has the backing of leading liberal lions and key conservative stalwarts alike, and a range of bipartisan reforms are being debated in many states—we hope this report together with NCTE’s recent guide “Standing with LGBT Prisoners: An Advocate’s Guide to Ending Abuse and Combating Imprisonment” will help the LGBT movement play a big role in making big changes.

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