Saturday 21 October 2023

Georgia Settles Lawsuit On Transgender Medical Services For Public Employees

 Georgia agreed this week to start paying for transgender medical services for public employees, settling a lawsuit over the matter.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit moved to dismiss the case on Thursday in Atlanta federal court, saying they had reached a settlement with Georgia’s State Health Benefit Plan.

The state insurance plan, which covers more than 660,000 state government workers, public school employees, and retirees, will now have to pay for transgender medical services for employees, their spouses, and their dependents.

The lawsuit against the state was filed back in December by two state employees and a public school employee who claimed the state’s health insurance plan illegally discriminated against trans-identifying people.

All three plaintiffs were trans-identifying women who identify as male and wanted surgery to remove their breasts, but were initially denied.

“The exclusion not only harms the health and finances of transgender people seeking gender dysphoria treatment, it also reinforces the stigma attached to being transgender, suffering from gender dysphoria and seeking a gender transition,” the lawsuit had argued. “The exclusion communicates to transgender persons and to the public that their state government deems them unworthy of equal treatment.”

Earlier this year, Georgia banned children from getting gender surgery or starting cross-sex hormones. Puberty blockers for children are still allowed under the law, which has been challenged in court, but remains in effect for now.

However, Thursday’s settlement means Georgia’s state insurance plan could end up having to cover transgender medical services for children out of state, even though such services are banned in Georgia, according to David Brown, a lawyer for the plaintiffs. 

As part of the settlement, Georgia will also pay $365,000 to the plaintiffs and their lawyers. The plaintiffs say they spent their own money on services that should have been covered by the insurance plan.

The suit is one of several levied against Georgia’s state agencies attempting to force them to pay for transgender medical services. The state has already settled several of these lawsuits relating to its state health plans excluding transgender medical services.

Cross-sex hormones come with serious health risks including infertility, deadly blood clots, heart attacks, increased cancer risks of the breasts and ovaries, liver dysfunction, worsening psychological illness, and other serious conditions.

The number of gender surgeries nearly tripled in the U.S. from 2016 to 2019, according to an analysis published Wednesday in JAMA Network Open. In 2016, there were about 4,550 procedures, and that number spiked to around 13,000 in 2019.

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