Story at a glance
- Two women have filed a lawsuit against the state of Florida for denying them transgender health care.
- The lawsuit says that this exclusion is unconstitutional and violates their civil rights.
- Both women work for the state, and have been denied health coverage for procedures or medicine related to transitioning.
In Florida, two transgender women have filed a lawsuit against the state over its ban on transgender health coverage for state workers. The plaintiffs argue that the law violates the U.S. Constitution and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, according to NBC.
Working with the ACLU of Florida, Southern Legal Counsel and attorney Eric Lindstrom, the two plaintiffs, Jami Clare and Kathryn Lane, are aiming to end Florida’s State Plan Exclusion. As the title implies, this rule explicitly prevents state-sponsored health plans — like those for state employees — from covering “gender reassignment or modification services or supplies.”
The suit was filed on Monday, Jan. 13, in the Northern District of Florida.
Head counsel Simone Chriss said that “We brought this lawsuit because all people need access to medical care. This is not about special treatment; this is about equal treatment. Transgender state employees are singled out and explicitly denied coverage for one reason: They are transgender. That is discrimination, and it cannot stand.”
Claire works as a senior biological scientist in the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine, and Lane is an attorney at the office of the public defender of Tallahassee. Both women have been denied transgender medical care under their state work insurance plans, such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and facial feminization surgery.
Both women have had to pay out of pocket for their medical care expenses.
The denial of medical benefits have had negative impacts on both women’s mental health. One of the suit’s former plaintiffs, Dr. Billy Huff, left his role as the director of LGBTQ affairs at the University of Florida to take a job in Illinois, a state the prohibits exclusions on transgender health care policyholders.
Huff, a transgender man, said that staying in a state that doesn’t cover his transgender-related health care needs was taking a toll on his mental state and exacerbating his gender dysphoria. Huff is no longer a plaintiff but will be called on as a witness during future hearings.
Chriss went on to say that “It’s the overwhelming consensus of the medical community, scientists, the people that have actually studied the long-term effects, the economic benefits that this should be covered.”
Currently, 22 states and the District of Columbia have some type of legal protection in place banning exclusions for transgender health care, whether that state provides transgender-inclusive health coverage, bans exclusions or both.