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Md. bans gender transition exclusions in insurance

Advocates applaud state entity for changes



Patrick Paschall, gay news, Washington Blade
Patrick Paschall, gay news, Washington Blade

Patrick A. Paschall, executive director of FreeState Legal and Equality Maryland, applauded the Maryland Insurance Administration. (Photo courtesy Patrick Paschall)

FreeState Legal and Equality Maryland announced on Wednesday that the Maryland Insurance Administration has issued bulletins prohibiting individual, small-group, and student health insurance plans sold in Maryland from excluding coverage for health care for the purpose of gender transition. This announcement follows longstanding advocacy by FreeState Legal and Equality Maryland, most recently including a request to the federal Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight asking federal regulators to require Maryland to prohibit transition-related care exclusions from appearing in these state-regulated insurance plans that are governed by the federal Affordable Care Act.

“We applaud the Maryland Insurance Administration for prohibiting this discriminatory exclusion that has become a fixture in health insurance plans and that does significant harm to the transgender community,” said Patrick A. Paschall, executive director of FreeState Legal and Equality Maryland.

“Transition-related care exclusions serve no other purpose than to discriminate against transgender people. To deny life-saving medical care to an entire population based solely on the fact that they identify as transgender is not only unconscionable, but we believe a violation of federal law. We are glad that the Maryland Insurance Administration agrees that transition-related care exclusions violate federal law and has taken action to ensure that the individual, small-group, and student plans it regulates no longer discriminate on the basis of gender identity.”

The Maryland Insurance Administration bulletins, issued on Dec. 7 and 10, 2015, inform health insurers that transition-related care exclusions will no longer be permitted as the agency reviews and approves individual and small-group health plans for the 2017 plan year and student health plans for the 2016-17 school year. The bulletins require carriers to update their plans, and clarify that the requirement applies to plans that are sold either through the ACA exchange or off the exchange.

The administration based its decision on an existing federal regulation, 45 CFR § 156.200(e), issued in 2012, that prohibits discrimination in qualified health plans on the basis of personal characteristics such as gender identity. In the recent bulletins, the Maryland Insurance Administration ruled that transition-related care exclusions can no longer appear in small-group, individual, and student plans because “federal guidance has determined that this type of exclusion is a discriminatory benefit design,” prohibited by the federal regulation.

“We hope this sends a clear message to insurers that denial of transition-related health care solely because the patient is transgender is unlawfully discriminatory, and that the federal regulations on which the agency based its decision are currently in effect,” said Paschall. “We believe that discrimination against transgender people in all health insurance plans is against the law, and we at FreeState Legal and Equality Maryland will continue to bring legal action against insurers that discriminate and employers that choose discriminatory plans. We will not stop until all transgender people in Maryland have full and equal access to the health care they need.”

This action has been applauded by advocates for gender identity equality. “Maryland state regulations continue to fall into line with the civil rights code from the Affordable Care Act,” Dana Beyer, executive director of Gender Rights Maryland, told the Blade. “Thanks to Free State Legal and its dogged and skillful pursuit of these benefits for Maryland residents!”



Virginia Beach high school students stage walkouts to support transgender rights

City’s school board approved policy to out trans students to parents



Transgender flags (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key.)

Students at five Virginia Beach high schools on Friday staged walkouts in support of transgender rights.

The walkout is in response to the Virginia Beach School Board approving policy 5-31, which the Pride Liberation Project says will require schools to out trans students to their parents.

Students have been organizing walkouts across the state since Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin earlier this year announced new guidelines for trans and nonbinary students.

“Students like me aren’t going to be able to talk to our teachers if we’re constantly worried about our school officials calling home to forcibly out us,” AJ, a trans Kellam High School Student, told the Pride Liberation Project.

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District of Columbia

Pepco, Exelon announce $2.7 million in funding for four minority-owned businesses

‘It’s good business sense to bring more people to the table’



Pepco and Exelon held a press conference Friday to announce four recipients of $2.7 million in investments. (Photo courtesy Exelon)

Pepco and Exelon announced a $2.7 million investment in four minority-owned businesses on Friday.

“Today’s been a long time coming,” said Pepco Vice President of Governmental and External Affairs Valencia McClure.

Pepco’s parent company, Exelon, launched the Racial Equity Capital Fund (RECF) in 2022 to expand capital access to diverse businesses. This latest $2.7 million investment is just a portion of RECF’s $36 million in funding.

At the announcement, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser spoke about the other ways Pepco and Exelon have “put their money where their mouth is” through their partnership with the D.C. Infrastructure Academy. She reported that all 22 of the residents that graduated from the program last week have a job offer from Pepco.

“We know that is not just a job, but a career,” she said to the crowd’s applause. “We know that working together, we can invest in D.C. residents, provide opportunity, and ensure that our D.C. businesses are a part of D.C.’s growing prosperity.”

The four minority businesses that received funding were Gemini Energy Solutions, Public Sector Solutions Group, CJR Development Partners, and Escalate.

“It’s good business sense to bring more people to the table,” said fund recipient Nicole Cober, CJR Development’s Principle Managing Partner.

Gemini Energy Solutions, which is Black owned, received $1 million, the most of the four companies. Its mission is to equitably scale energy efficiency to marginalized communities. For the founder and CEO Anthony Kinslow II, this investment means that he is able to get paid and advance the work of his organization.

“We are now able to accelerate the work in our software and technology development,” he said. “What we were going to do in two years, we are now going to do in six months.”

For Escalate, a workforce development platform focused on frontline worker retention, the funding means that it will be able to double the pay for frontline workers.

Public Sector Solutions Group CEO Darryl Wiggins emphasized that this investment was not just ‘charity’ work, but mission-driven work.

“The principle and the intent is greater than the money we receive,” he said. Public Sector Solutions is Black owned.

Public Sector Solutions Group received a $600,000 debt investment; CJR Development, a minority and woman-owned small business, received a $600,000 debt investment; and Escalate, a majority Black and woman-owned company, received a $500,000 equity investment.

Exelon launched the RECF in partnership with RockCreek, one of the world’s largest diverse-owned global investment firms, in 2022. The RECF expands capital access to diverse businesses so they can create more jobs, grow their companies and reinvest in their neighborhoods and communities, according to a statement from Exelon.

New RECF applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Interested businesses may apply online or contact RockCreek at [email protected] for more information.

(Photo courtesy Exelon)
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Comings & Goings

Armstrong recognized with Lifetime Achievement Award



Lynden C. Armstrong

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected].

Congratulations to Lynden C. Armstrong on his Lifetime Achievement award from the Congressional Management Foundation in recognition of his exemplary public service in Congress. 

Upon receiving the award Armstrong said, “This recognition is not just a personal achievement, but a testament to the unwavering dedication and hard work of colleagues and mentors who have been with me on this journey. I’ve dedicated my entire career to public service within the Senate, where recognition isn’t the primary motivation for our work, making this recognition even more humbling.” He is currently Deputy Assistant Senate Sergeant at Arms and Chief Information Officer.  

Armstrong started his career with Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), where he rose to Deputy Chief of Staff in his more than 13-year stint. In 2004, during his tenure with Domenici, amid a debate on the Federal Marriage Amendment, Armstrong became a co-founder of the Gay, Lesbian and Allies Senate Staff (GLASS) Caucus. In 2014, he moved to the Sergeant at Arms CIO organization, where he established a new department within the CIO that was crafted to engage Senate offices in comprehending and harnessing technologies provided by the SAA. 

Lynden has previously served as Chief Clerk on the U.S. Senate, Committee on Rules and Administration, and with the U.S. Senate, Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, as Deputy Inaugural Coordinator, 2012–2013.  In that role among other responsibilities, he served as civilian liaison to the National Special Security Event Executive Steering Committee and subcommittees, including the Capitol, USCP, Crowd Management, Public Relations, Transportation, and credentialing, and as liaison to the Joint Task Force – National Capital Region. 

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