July 22, 2014 at 11:41 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Maryland extends health care coverage to trans state employees

trans, transgender flag, gay news, Washington Blade

Maryland has agreed to cover transition-related health care of its transgender state employees. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key).

Maryland will now cover procedures and other transition-related health care of its transgender state employees under a new policy the Free State Legal Project announced on Tuesday.

The so-called Gender Dysphoria Benefit, which takes effect immediately, covers hormone therapy, surgical procedures and other “transition-related treatment that is medically necessary.” The new policy applies to employees and retirees who are enrolled in the state’s health benefit program, along with their spouses and dependents.

Free State Legal Project on Tuesday said the announcement came in response to a 2013 complaint it filed against the state on behalf of Sailor Holobaugh, a University of Maryland-Baltimore employee whose request to receive reimbursement for what his doctors deemed a medically necessary double mastectomy through the state employees’ health insurance and benefits program was denied because he is trans.

Free State Legal Project in January filed an additional complaint with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights, alleging the exclusion of trans-related health care violates an executive order banning anti-trans discrimination in state employment that Gov. Martin O’Malley signed in 2007.

The state agreed to reimburse Holobaugh for his mastectomy as part of its agreement.

“My experience as a social worker and a scout has made me appreciate the importance of persevering for change and equality,” said Holobaugh in a Free State Legal Project press release. “I am thrilled that people who serve Maryland as state employees now have increased access to health services, and that they can extend these benefits to their dependents.”

Maryland joins Oregon and California that have extended coverage of trans-specific health care to their state employees and retirees.

The announcement comes slightly more than two months after O’Malley signed into a law a bill that bans anti-trans discrimination in the state.

Opponents of the law failed to collect enough signatures to prompt a November referendum on it.

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

  • Naomi

    This is fantastic! I have a lot of friends who will benefit from this. Medical transition is often the only way to treat gender identity disorder. Many transgender people end up in poverty because of discrimination and barred access to healthcare, employment, etc.. This is a means to help transpeople back onto their feet and become productive members of society. Perhaps some stigma against being transgender will be erased, as well, which is necessary considering the 1/12 (1/8 for transwomen of color) murder rate and the 1/2 rape rate among transpeople.

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