I met with the HR rep again today. Things seem to be going swimmingly on the work front preparing for my transition. We’re planning to meet every two weeks from now until “show time.” So there’s some nice momentum.
Interesting discovery of the day: When I first told my supervisor about my impending transition, I heard a rumor that one other person had gone through transition at my employer previously. Later I learned from my HR rep that this description was misleading… we had one person who had completed transition before joining the company, but no one who actually transitioned on the job here. Well after asking around among the HR department, my HR rep has discovered that three other people have transitioned on the job here previously. I find that somewhat comforting.
I haven’t talked to the benefits people yet, but the HR rep has done so a few times. They’re trying to get everything together to have a solid plan laid out to get my name and gender markers changed; stuff like “you need to fill out these forms; present these two forms of ID; bring in proof of this so we can submit that.” That kind of thing. Exciting, no? But it’s all part of the light-hearted frollic we call “transition.”
One thing I brought up to the HR rep is a topic that I always feel sheepish about mentioning – whether they will re-examine their benefit coverage in light of transition related expenses. The HR rep said she would follow up with the benefits folks and see what they know about that, and they might be invited to our next meeting to talk about it.
I’m torn about how assertive I ought to be in this area. On the one side, the company is being fantastically supportive. If there is such a thing as a best case scenario for transitioning on the job, this company seems committed to making that happen. I do not want to mess that up.
On the other side, I’ve become aware of some recent statements and recommended changes from some pretty relevant organizations regarding the medical coverage of transition-related expenses. In that light, I’m considering presenting three pieces of data to nudge their benefit coverage perhaps a bit further than they’ve considered going in the past.
The first is a general statement from the American Medical Association, issued in June of 2008:
“RESOLVED, That our American Medical Association support public and private health insurance coverage for treatment of gender identity disorder as recommended by a physician.”
The next item is the letter with more specific recent recommendations by WPATH (pdf), also from June of 2008 (key excerpts with my emphases below):
The current Board of Directors of the WPATH herewith expresses its conviction that sex reassignment, properly indicated and performed as provided by the Standards of Care, has proven to be beneficial and effective in the treatment of individuals with transsexualism, gender identity disorder, and/or gender dysphoria. …
Medically necessary sex reassignment procedures also include complete hysterectomy, bilateral mastectomy, chest reconstruction or augmentation as appropriate to each patient (including breast prostheses if necessary), genital reconstruction (by various techniques which must be appropriate to each patient, including, for example, skin flap hair removal, penila and testicular prostheses, as necessary), facial hair removal, and certain facial plastic reconstruction as appropriate to the patient. …
The medical procedures attendant to sex reassignment are not “cosmetic” or “elective” or for the mere convenience of the patient. These reconstructive procedures are not optional in any meaningful sense, but are understood to be medically necessary for the treatment of the diagnosed condition. …
The WPATH Board of Directors urges health insurance carriers and healthcare providers in the United States to eliminate transgender or trans-sex exclusions and to provide coverage for transgender patients and the medically prescribed sex reassignment services necessary for their treatment and well-being, and to ensure that their ongoing healthcare (both routine and specialized) is readily accessible.
The other is this statement from the Human Rights Campaign (and all the supporting material on that source page):
Medically necessary treatments and procedures, such as those defined by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s Standards of Care for Gender Identity Disorders, should be included in employer-provided healthcare and short-term disability coverage.
Transgender people face many forms of discrimination in the provision of health insurance. Employers, as consumers of group health insurance products, can advocate on behalf of the transgender people insured on their group health insurance plans. Employers should work with their insurance carriers or administrators to remove transgender exclusions and provide comprehensive transgender-inclusive insurance coverage.
Basically I’d like to make the point that the leading medical and GLBT voices are actually united around this topic: Transsexuals ought to have coverage for their transition expenses. If my employer decided to cover my GRS expenses like they would any other medically necessary surgical procedure, I would be able to start planning a date to do it as early as next year. Without that aspect, it’s a lot further out than that.
Any other opinions on whether or not I should raise the issue? Or would it come across as selfish and presumptive?