Federal judge orders state of Wisconsin to cover transgender transition surgery



MADISON— A federal judge has ordered the state of Wisconsin and its insurers to pay for transgender transition surgery for its employees.

U.S. District Judge William Conley says there’s no legal reason to exclude medically necessary care for the employees.

University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate student Alina Boyden and UW School of Medicine researcher Shannon Andrews filed a lawsuit last year after they were denied treatment their doctors had determined was anecessary part of the gender transitions.

The Journal Sentinel reports the state argued that covering the surgery would insert it into the “business of encouraging surgeries meant to conform peoples’ appearances to their own perceived sex stereotypes.”

Conley called that position “unhinged from reality.”

Below is the complete statement issued by the ACLU of Wisconsin following the judge’s ruling:

A federal court found that denying health insurance for gender-affirming medical care violates the Constitution and federal non-discrimination law. The federal lawsuit was filed on behalf of Alina Boyden, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Shannon Andrews, a cancer researcher at the University of Wisconsin Medical School by the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Wisconsin, and volunteer attorneys from the law firm Hawks Quindel.

The decision concluded that there was no reason to exclude medically necessary care for transgender workers and said that some of the state’s arguments appear “unhinged from reality.”

”I’m pleased the court recognized that denying coverage for my medical care was sex discrimination. I, personally, was lucky to be in a position to have retirement funds and savings I could take out to fund my medical care, but had I been less fortunate I would not be alive today,” said Andrews. “I feel vindicated that the court recognized what the state did was wrong. I hope that this will be a powerful signal that trans people are not fair game for discrimination and that our lives and health are not a political football.”

The state’s Group Insurance Board approved health insurance coverage for gender-confirmation surgery for state employees, effective January 1, 2019.  The ACLU views this decision as a step toward ensuring that transgender people’s rights to be themselves are protected.

“As the court found, depriving transgender people of access to transition-related care is sex discrimination,” said Larry Dupuis legal director for the ACLU of Wisconsin. “We will continue our work until all transgender people can get the medical care they need, just like other people can .