The Northern Star (Northern Illinois University), IL, USA
Trans health is important to all
Company health insurance unfair to transgenders
Posted: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 12:47 am | Updated: 1:16 am, Wed
Sep 12, 2012.
Hayley Devitt, Columnist
More and more employers today are expanding company health insurance
benefits to include services for transgender workers. Although the
American Medical Association does recommend this, not all companies
are on board yet.
“Transgender” is an adjective which applies to people who identify
with a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth. The
health care these individuals need specifically is an important but
unfortunately overlooked issue.
In my experience, many cisgender people, or anyone who is not trans,
typically respond to the transgender population with misunderstanding
and confusion. However, I think the more attention it gets, and the
more the cis population knows, the less foreign the subject will feel.
To gain more insight, I corresponded with Bethany Hill, founder and
co-coordinator of the Transitions social group at NIU. She very
eloquently outlined some of what people go through when transitioning
from one gender identity to another.
According to her, transgender people benefit from three types of
health services: doctor and therapist visits, prescriptions and
surgeries. Hill said that “many transgender individuals seek therapy
either for personal desire or because they are required to in order to
proceed to transition medically.”
Doctors prescribe different hormone medications to change a person’s
body to fit their target gender. These prescriptions are costly and
are taken life-long. Patients also need follow-up visits after
surgeries and time off work to make appointments with specialty
It sounds reasonable to me that these basic amenities should be
covered in an employee’s insurance plan; all kinds of people need
check-ups and prescriptions, so why shouldn’t the trans community be
However, some employers are holding back because they fear the
astronomical costs of gender reassignment procedures. Not everyone who
transitions desires surgery, though. Some simply live as their desired
gender, some only take hormones and others alter their bodies to
whatever extent is necessary for them to feel like themselves. This
can include facial and voice reconstruction as well as genital
Hill pointed out that while some think transgender employees don’t
need medical procedures or treatments, going without them can
seriously hurt an employee’s self-confidence and work quality.
“When a trans person desires to transition medically and is unable to
because of financial reasons or otherwise, they experience dysphoria
quite literally,” Hill said.
Feeling uncomfortable in one’s own skin can keep a person from being a
good leader and living a productive life. By that token, getting these
workers their treatments would be beneficial to everyone involved.
If nothing else, I think that therapy is the most important and should
be covered by employee insurance. Can you imagine feeling like the
body you live in is all wrong for you? And anyway, it is usually
needed before any other treatments and procedures can be done.
I decided years back to support the LGBT community, and I’m thankful
that in this day and age a growing number are doing the same. What the
world needs to keep on this track is knowledge. With knowledge comes
I encourage our readers to be courteous and kind to trans men and
women everywhere. Give them the respect of using the names they prefer
and acknowledging the gender they identify with.
© Copyright 2012, Northern Star Online, DeKalb, IL