Starbucks expands health benefits for transgender employees
© Getty

Starbucks announced Monday that it will expand health benefits for transgender employees, including covering surgeries that were previously considered cosmetic.

The company has covered gender reassignment surgery since 2012, but will now cover services like breast reduction or augmentation, hair transplants, voice therapy and facial feminization surgery.

ADVERTISEMENT

Starbucks partnered with the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) to create the new benefits. A WPATH official said that Starbucks is the first company to do so.

“The approach was driven not just by the company’s desire to provide truly inclusive coverage, and by powerful conversations with transgender partners about how those benefits would allow them to truly be who they are,” said Ron Crawford, vice president of benefits at Starbucks, in a statement.

Transgender advocates have applauded the changes, saying that many of the procedures that insurers consider to be strictly cosmetic can be “life-affirming” or even “life-saving” for transgender people.

Starbucks has been praised in the past for its policies related to LGBTQ workplace equality, and earned a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s annual Corporate Equality Index rankings for 2018, making the company a “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality.”

The company has recently come under fire over several race-related incidents. Starbucks closed more than 8,000 stores nationwide one day last month for anti-bias training after two black men were handcuffed and removed from a Philadelphia store while waiting for a friend.