Two transgender women have filed a lawsuist against the state of Florida for denying them treatment for gender affirming treatment.
Jami Claire and Kathryne Lane claim in the lawsuit that they’re going without necessary treatment for gender dysphoria because state health care plans exclude coverage for gender-affirming care.
Claire, a senior biological scientist at the University of Florida, and Lane, a lawyer in the public defender’s office in Tallahassee, are suing their employers and the state’s Division of Management Services.
“Transgender state employees are singled out and explicitly denied coverage for one reason: they are transgender,” said Southern Legal Counsel attorney Simone Chriss, lead counsel for the case. “That is discrimination, and it cannot stand.”
The lawsuit claims that excluding gender-affirming care is sex discrimination and violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
“I think there’s this misconception that it’s special, unnecessary, different treatment,” Chriss said. “What we are asking for is simply equal treatment, equal access to a health insurance plan, equal access to coverage for these benefits.”
Claire said she started transitioning and paying out of pocket for her treatments in 1997. However, she had to stop five years later because the costs were too high. In 2016, she resumed her transition but found out the state’s insurance wouldn’t cover her treatments.
“Having these surgeries is life-affirming,” she said. “Many trans people, and I’m one of them, attempt self-harm or attempt to remove those body parts. It can be bloody, it can be messy and it can kill you.”
Although she worries about the retaliation or backlash she may receive from being a plaintiff, Claire says it’s vital. She said that she’s lost her relationships with her family and warned that losing loved ones is a common risk for trangender people.
“I would not trade my life now for anything,” she said. “I am happier now than I have ever been, in spite of all the issues I have now.”
According to a 2019 brief from the American Medical Association, 25 percent of transgender people had an issue with their insurance for transition care. It adds that suicide rates go down when transgender people receive medical treatment.