Yesterday at the Huffington Post, Joanne Herman offered an interesting article: More Employers To Cover Transgender Surgery, But New Hurdles Expected
(Let’s not derail over the use of the words “transgender surgery” here. Note that this is the language called for by the AP Stylebook, which is widely adhered to by U.S. journalists. They don’t use the word “transsexual.” It’s not technically accurate, but that’s a topic for another time.)
The article speculates about the impact of the upcoming change to Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, which has been updated for 2012 to require employers to offer extensive trans related medical care as a condition of achieving a perfect score.
The required changes are summarized by the HRC as…
- transgender exclusions must be removed or substantially modified to ensure coverage for transgender-specific treatment
- either directly in the contract or in clinical guidelines referenced by the contract, the insurance plan must acknowledge the WPATH Standards of Care to determine what treatment will be considered medically necessary and not cosmetic.
It’s not certain at this point what impact the updated CEI requirements will have. After all, most companies don’t ask for a CEI rating in the first place.
But quite a few companies not only care about getting a perfect CEI rating, they have gotten into the habit of boasting about it annually. One would assume these companies have some motivation to take action to keep their rating. And if they do so, that’s good news for trans health.
Another interesting item from Herman’s article comes near the end.
Regardless of the hurdles, the new coverage is timely. The recently-released U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People objectives for the next 10 years include, for the first time, a specific objective of recognizing transgender health needs as medically necessary. The change in attitude brought by the new surgery coverage will go a long way toward achieving this objective.
A departmental objective isn’t exactly a law, but it’s a heck of a lot more than I would have expected at this point. If all it does is raises awareness and gets people to better examine the evidence, I’d see that as making solid progress.
I may be reading too much into this, but it seems to me like transsexualism is coming to be recognized by a much broader audience as a medical condition responsive to medical intervention, just like the evidence has long shown.
I personally hope that this recognition spreads bottom-up throughout the minds of the general public who then respond accordingly (and I see the voluntary nature of the CEI to be a good step in this direction), rather than being mandated top down at some point. I don’t want trans health to become a political football. I’d prefer lasting recognition of trans health needs based on good science and sound medical evidence, making it about as political as treating a cleft palate.