One year from now, more employers than ever before will cover transgender surgery as part of their health insurance plan. While this is much-needed progress for transgender people, implementation issues will unfortunately create new hurdles to living in one’s true gender.
The coverage is a requirement in the 2012 Corporate Equality Index. An employer must contract for the coverage by June of this year and coverage must be effective January 1, 2012 in order to score 100 percent on the 2012 CEI.
This change will impact all transgender people even though many do not need or want surgery. That’s because insurance company exclusions of transgender surgery, and in some cases any transgender care, have tended to make medical care providers regard anything transgender-related as frivolous.
The consequence of this is shocking. The recent National Transgender Discrimination Survey — Report on Health and Health Care showed that 19 percent of the respondents of all ages were refused care because of their transgender or gender non-conforming status, 28 percent were subject to harassment in medical settings, and 2 percent were victims of violence in doctor’s offices.
It’s unclear if all 337 employers who scored 100 percent in the 2011 CEI survey will be able to arrange for the new coverage in time. The chief diversity officer of one employer told me that adding the coverage is his number one priority in 2011. Yet I’m guessing the change is big enough that some companies will fall from 100 percent in 2012.
While 85 of those employers already cover transgender surgery in some way, the challenge for all employers will be that the 2012 CEI requires coverage of surgery deemed medically necessary by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). It may take some employers longer than others to accept that procedures such as facial feminization surgery, usually dismissed as “cosmetic” in current coverage, should be covered.
For those employers large enough to “self-insure,” conformance with WPATH requirements can easily be written into the health plan. But for other employers who must take the “plain vanilla” insurance offerings, many health insurers in the U.S. do not even offer a rider covering transgender surgery, and those who do typically impose requirements that differ from the WPATH requirements, usually in more restrictive ways.
One restriction in standard riders concerns the procedures involving breasts. For a person transitioning from female to male, a mastectomy is recognized by WPATH as the first step typically undertaken in a gender transition. For a male to female, WPATH sees breast enlargement as warranted after 18 months in cases where hormone therapy has not led to adequate breast tissue growth. But most standard insurance riders set an 18-month delay for any breast procedure, unacceptable for those transitioning to male.
Even with the most WPATH-compliant coverage, a significant hurdle will be that few of the current transgender surgery specialists accept insurance. In fact, most require prepayment of the full cost. Many employees are just not going to be able to come up with that kind of cash, and it’s going to be a while before the market forces providers to accept insurance.
For those who can pay in advance, the insurance company’s inexperience with transgender coverage could leave the employee hanging. In one company already providing coverage, a patient obtained the required pre-authorization letters from a therapist and the primary provider of care, received approval, and underwent surgery, only to find the insurance company refusing to pay because it decided after the fact that the employee’s primary provider of care should have been a mental health provider. The patient is now scrambling to be pre-authorized after the fact.
Of course, most insurance companies limit payment to the “reasonable and customary” (R&C) amount for the particular surgery. Surprisingly, insurance companies already have these amounts determined since most transgender surgery procedures are actually the same procedures performed for non-trans people under different circumstances (for example, construction of a penis for a man who has been in a tragic accident). An employee could be caught short if the R&C amount ends up being less than trans surgery specialists normally charge.
And then there is a common requirement of using providers within the employee’s home state. With so few surgeons specializing in transgender surgery, will this leave the employee with coverage, but no qualified surgeon? Or will it encourage the employee to gamble on a surgeon who has little experience with the procedure?
Regardless of the hurdles, the new coverage is timely. The recently-released U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People objectives for the next 10 years include, for the first time, a specific objective of recognizing transgender health needs as medically necessary. The change in attitude brought by the new surgery coverage will go a long way toward achieving this objective.
(via The Huffington Post)
The HRC is not great on trans issues. But by requiring that ALL surgeries deemed medically necessary by WPATH be covered in a company’s insurance plan in order to be included in the HRC Corporate Equality Index, they have essentially single-handedly moved this issue to the top of the priority list. Corporations are actually RUSHING to include new coverage for trans employees. Like Ms. Herman mentions, having an insurance plan that covers the surgeries isn’t a magical wand and it is still really difficult (even financially) to move forward with surgical procedures, but boy does it help! Additionally, I see this as a really important step for trans rights and awareness in general. Very exciting news, and a big thank you from xxboy to HRC. (I mean, should I be thanking them for something that they SHOULD be doing and should have been doing a long time ago? Hell, I’m grateful!)
We still have work to do, as this legislation does not protect transgender service members. Apparently, you can be court-martialed for cross dressing, etc.
Grace is referring to the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”! Which finally passed the senate (after passing the house) today.
Gizmodo attained the images by filing a Freedom of Information Act request. The images were among the 35,000 that U.S. Marshals at the Orlando courthouse admitted to saving.
Gizmodo, which blurred the faces in the photographs, explains their reasoning for publishing them:
The leaking of these photographs demonstrates the security limitations of not just this particular machine, but millimeter wave and x-ray backscatter body scanners operated by federal employees in our courthouses and by TSA officers in airports across the country. That we can see these images today almost guarantees that others will be seeing similar images in the future.
And my concerns about using body scanner images to out trans people suddenly seem more valid.
Though these particular images are not from the naked body scanner machines that were introduced in a number of U.S. airports this year (the ones that could clearly show discrepancies between trans and cis bodies), their misuse still demonstrates that the TSA’s claims that the machines “cannot store, print, transmit or save the” images and that they are “automatically deleted from the system after it is cleared by the remotely located security officer” are inaccurate.
This is a serious invasion of privacy and one that has the potential to be used against trans people.
Saturday, November 20
WHAT IS IT: Transgender Awareness Week is a time for transgender people and their allies to express themselves and their pride truly and fully, and to spread knowledge about what it means to be transgender.
WHAT IS IT: The Transgender Day of Remembrance is held in November each year to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. Although… not every person represented during the Day of Remembrance self-identified as transgender, each was a victim of violence based on bias against transgender people. The list of deaths available here, only contains those deaths known to the transgender community or that have been reported to the media. The Day of Remembrance is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder — like most anti-transgender murder cases — has yet to be solved.
PURPOSE: The Transgender Day of Remembrance serves several purposes. It raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgender people, an action that current media doesn’t perform. Day of Remembrance publicly mourns and honors the lives of transgender people who might otherwise be forgotten. Through the vigil, we express love and respect in the face of national indifference and hatred. Day of Remembrance gives transgender people and their allies a chance to step forward and stand in vigil, memorializing those who’ve died by anti-transgender violence. Putting on the Day of Remembrance in schools can also be used as a way to educate students, teachers, and administrators about transgender issues, so we can try to prevent anti-transgender hatred and violence from continuing.
WHO IS BEING HONORED: Over the past year, over 30 transgender people have lost their lives due to hate crimes, but this is unfortunately just the tip of the iceberg of people killed worldwide due to bias and hatred based on gender identity and expression. Most of the victims were people of color who came from working class backgrounds. Among the fallen are transgender and gender non-conforming youth of color whose lives were cut short unnecessarily.
[a note from xxboy: I considered truncating this message and just providing a link to the full list, because I knew it would be more aesthetically pleasing. but i didn’t want to make it easier to scroll through this list of people who lost their lives due to transphobia. it should be difficult and ugly and painful to see this post. Please read on.]
Gwen Araujo, 17, (Newark, California) chose the name, Gwen, after her favorite star, Gwen Stefani, from the group No Doubt. Before her untimely death, her skirt was lifted up for people to see that she was born biologically male before she was beaten and buried in a shallow grave.
Alina Marie Barragan, 19, (San Jose, California) was strangled to death and her body was stuffed in the trunk of a car after a man named Kozi Santino Scott became enraged after discovering that Alina Marie, who he originally thought was a woman, was biologically male.
Sakia Gunn, 15, (Newark, New Jersey) was a gender non-conforming lesbian who was targeted because of her gender presentation. Sakia Gunn was not like most girls in her neighborhood. She refused to wear pink even as a young child. Her mother laughs when asked if Sakia played with dolls. When they were given to her as toys, she immediately cut off their hair, she says. For as long as anyone can remember, Sakia preferred baggy jeans and a T-shirt over dresses and skirts. On a hot night in June, Sakia and her friends were returning from the Chelsea Piers in downtown Manhattan, a hangout for mostly queer youth of color, to Newark, New Jersey. When Sakia and her friends, refused the advances of a couple of men, Sakia was subsequently stabbed and passed away on the way to the hospital.
Nireah Johnson, 17, (Indianapolis, Indiana) was murdered by a man who became enraged when he discovered that Nireah, the young woman he was attracted to, was transgender. Nireah and a friend, 18-year-old Brandie Coleman, were shot in the head while sitting in a SUV.
Freddie Martinez, 16, (Cortez, Colorado) was a very striking Navajo teen who presented as female and was often harassed at school. Freddie was murdered in Cortez, Colorado.
Nikki Nicholas, 19, (Detroit, Michigan) was an African-American transwoman making her living as a performer in clubs where she often danced and lip-synched to Beyonce songs. The youngster preferred playing with Barbie dolls rather than G.I. Joes, Nicholas’ mother said, and by age 11 began experimenting with girls’ clothing and makeup. Her body was discovered during a routine property check of an abandoned farmhouse.
Stephanie Thomas, 19, and Ukea Davis, 18, (Washington, DC) were friends found shot to death together. They were a part of SMYL (Sexual Minority Youth Liaison) and were often teased for being feminine. Stephanie started wearing dresses and makeup at the age of 14. Her mother commented that “on the school bus kids tormented her, so she would get off and walk a couple miles to the school.” Through a transgender health group, Stephanie met Ukea Davis, another transgender woman. They supported one another, especially when classmates—and even teachers—harassed them about their gender identity.
Sadly, these numbers are continuing to grow. With TV shows like Jerry Springer, gender identity is trivialized as transgender and gender non-conforming people are brought on the show and bashed verbally and sometimes physically. When people watch shows like this or when we reduce people’s experiences to phrases like “he was dressed as a woman,” we trivialize gender and people’s identities.
For Gwen, Stephanie, Nikki, and other transgender teenagers, public school is usually not a safe place for them to express their gender. In addition, if they come from school districts that are underfunded, there will not be any funds to have teacher trainings and programs that address diversity, especially gender identity. Very few states have laws that protect transgender and gender non-conforming students’ rights.
TRANSGENDER PEOPLE KILLED MORE THEN A YEAR AGO: Alabama
On August 10, 1995, in Dale County, AL, Tarayon Corbitt (19), a transgender woman, was found dead – shot twice in the head and once in the chest. Her murder remains unsolved.
On May 1, 2005, in Dothan, AL, Ashley Nickson (30), an African-American transgender woman, was shot three times in her home by Steven Kyles (19) following a sexual encounter. Kyles, who had a history of violence, had been released from jail for an unrelated shooting just days earlier.
In November 1997 in Mobile, AL, Jerrell Williams (19), an African-American cross-dresser, was stabbed and had his throat slashed. His assailant, Tavares Forrest, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 15 years.
On May 6, 2005, in Yuma, AZ, Delilah Corrales (23), a transgender Latina woman, was found stabbed, severely beaten, and drowned in the Colorado River. Her murder remains unsolved.
On March 3, 2002, in Phoenix, AZ, Alejandro Lucero (25), a transgender Hopi woman, was strangled and beaten to death. Police ruled the murder a hate crime, but her case remains unsolved.
On October 3, 2002, in Newark, CA, Gwen Araujo (17), a Latina transgender teen, was beaten and strangled to death by recent acquaintances who learned she was biologically male. Michael Magidson (25) and José Merél (25) were convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to 15 15 years-to-life in prison. Jaron Nabors (22) was sentenced to 11 years in prison pursuant to a plea agreement. Jason Cazares plead no contest to voluntary manslaughter and was snetenced to six years in prison. Michael Magidson, 25, Jaron Nabors, 22, José Merél, 25
On January 19, 2000, in San Jose, CA, the body of Alina Marie Barragan (19), a transgender Latina woman, was found strangled to death following a sexual encounter in which her assailant learned she was biologically male. Kozi Santino Scott (21) was convicted and sentenced to 15 years to life.
On September 28, 1998, in Clovis, CA, Chanel Chandler (22), an African-American transgender woman, was found with her throat cut from a beer bottle in her apartment, which had been set on fire in what police called an attempt to destroy evidence. Christopher Lopez and Christopher Chavez werecharged with Chanel’s murder but were released in 1999 after the charges were dropped.
On September 30, 2003, in San Pablo, CA, Sindy Cuarda (24), a transgender Latina woman, was killed with multiple gunshots to her upper body. Her murder remains unsolved.
On December 26, 2004, in Los Angeles, CA, Feliciano Moreno (25), a Latina transgender woman
was shot in the head and dumped in a cul-de-sac. She had been involved in sex-work. Patrick
Vallor (29), the primary suspect, was killed by police after he lead them on a high-speed chase.
In December 1995 in Oakland, CA, James Percy Rivers (23), an African-American transgender
woman, was stabbed and beaten to death in her apartment. Her murder remains unsolved.
On August 15, 2004, in Fresno, CA, Joel Robles (29), a Latina transgender woman, was stabbed
20 times after a sexual partner discovered she was biologically male. Estanislao Martinez (23)
pleaded guilty to the murder and was sentenced to four years in prison.
On June 16, 2001, in Cortez, CO, Fred Martinez (16), a Two-Spirit Navajo teen, was bludgeoned to death on the edge of town as he walked home. Shaun Murphy (18) pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
On May 9, 2003 in New Haven, CT, Jessica Mercado (24), a transgender Latina who was involved in sex-work, suffered multiple stab wounds before her apartment was set on fire. Michael Streater (30) pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and arson; he
was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Robert H. Jones
On October 15, 1997, in New Castle, DE, Robert H. Jones (30), a transgender woman, was
stabbed to death. Jones was attacked in her car after her assailant learned she was biologically
male. Ronald Taltoan plead guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to a prison term of 10 years.
On August 8, 2002, in Jacksonville, FL„ Deasha Andrews (28), an African-American transgender woman, was found shot to death in her car. Her murder remains unsolved.
In January 2003 in Fort Lauderdale, FL, Cinnamon Broadus (21) a transgender woman was shot
and died while running from her assailants. Her murder remains unsolved.
On October 31, 1999, in Iverness, FL, Allison Decatrel (17), was fatally hit by a car. Allison had been trick-or-treating with her friends, who were all dressed in clothes of the opposite sex, when her assailant made derogatory comments about their costumes. Richard Burzynski (18) was sentenced to a prison term of 45 years.
On December 13, 2003, in Largo, FL, Reshae McCauley (30), a cross-dresser, was fatally stabbed at home. McCauley was last seen with William McHenry (34) at a club that caters to the LGBT community. McHenry, whose blood-spattered clothing was found in the victim’s apartment, was sentenced to life in prison.
On January 7, 2001, in Ashburn, GA, Robert Martin (29), an African-American crossdresser, was
found severely beaten in an abandoned school-yard. He was still wearing a feminine wig. Martin
was in a coma three months before dying. His murder remains unsolved.
In October 1995 in Atlanta, GA, Quincy Favors Taylor (16), an African-American cross-dresser,
was fatally shot once in the chest in a parking lot. His murder remains unsolved.
On June 18, 2005, in Chicago, IL, Sidney Wright (26), an African-American transgender woman,
was punched and stabbed to death by Michael Majors (25) following an argument about Wright’s
sexual orientation. Majors was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.
On March 22, 1996, in Chicago, IL, Christian Paige (22), a transgender woman, was beaten, strangled, and then stabbed with a knife more than 20 times. Her apartment was then set afire, possibly to destroy evidence. Her murder remains unsolved.
On July 23, 2003 in Indianapolis, IN, Brandie Coleman (18), an African-American woman, was
found in a car with a transgender friend, Nireah Johnson. Both were bound and shot to death. Their car had been set afire, possibly to destroy evidence. Paul Anthony Moore (20) was convicted and sentenced to 120 years in prison in 2004.
On July 23, 2003, in Indianapolis, IN, Nireah Johnson (17), an African-American transgender woman, was found in a car with a friend, Brandie Coleman. Both had been bound and shot to death by a sexual partner who learned that she was biologically male. Paul Anthony Moore (20) was convicted of murder, criminal confinement and arson, and sentenced to 120 years in 2004.
Timothy Blair, Jr.
On May 22, 2005 in Louisville, KY, Timothy Blair, Jr. (22), an African-American cross-dresser, was found shot multiple times while wearing feminine attire. His murder remains unsolved.
In November 1995 in Boston, MA, Chanelle Pickett (23), a transgender woman, was beaten to death by her date after he discovered she was biologically male. In 1997, William Palmer was convicted of assault and battery, which carried a maximum sentence of 2 1/2 years.
On December 14, 2002, in Highland Park, MI, Tamyra Michaels (26), a transgender woman, was
shot. Her murder remains unsolved.
On February 21, 2003, in Green Oak Township, MI, Nikki Nicholas (19), an African-American transgender woman, was shot to death in an abandoned farmhouse. The case remains unsolved.
On May 11, 2003 in Newark, NJ, Sakia Gunn (15), an African-American lesbian, was stabbed to death while waiting at a bus stop with friends. Richard McCullough, whose advances had been rejected by the group of friends, pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter, aggravated assault, and bias intimidation and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
On August 29, 1999, in Passaic, NJ, Kareem Washington (21), an African-American cross-dresser,
died from stab wounds in the back and neck. The body had been left in an industrial area of the town and police believed the assault may have been sex-work related. His murder remains unsolved.
On December 27, 2004, in Albuquerque, NM, Ryan Hoskie (23), an African-American transgender
woman involved in sex work, was found dead in an alley. Her body showed signs of upper
body trauma. Her murder remains unsolved.
On June 20, 2000, in New York, NY, Amanda Millan (25), an African-American transgender woman who was involved in sex-work, was stabbed to death. According to witnesses, Amanda’s throat was slashed after she was verbally harassed about her biological sex. Dwayne McCuller (20) pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 17 1/2 years to life.
In November 1996 in New York, NY, Dion Webster (21), African-American and transgender, was
killed by multiple stabs to the head with a knife. Webster had been involved in sex work, and was
believed to be killed by a client. Her murder remains unsolved.
On September 27, 1999, in Cleveland, OH, Chareka Keys (19), an African-American transgender woman, was found beaten to death in an abandoned factory. Police ruled out robbery as a motive; her murder remains unsolved.
On November 15, 2005, in Cleveland, OH, Donathyn Rodgers (19), an African-American transgender woman, died from gun shots to the face, back, shoulder, and thigh. The shooting an abandoned gas station was suspected to be sex-work related. Her murder remains unsolved.
In February 1998 in Portland, OR, Jacqueline Julita Anderson (29), a bearded woman, was shot to death by the ex-boyfriend of her partner. Eric Running (47) was convicted of aggravated murder and sentenced to death.
Loni Kai Okaruru
On August 26, 2001, in Hillsboro, OR, the body of Loni Kai Okaruru (28), an Asian/Pacific-Islander crossdresser, was found dead in a field. Her head had been severely and repeatedly beaten. Loni Kai was wearing feminine attire at the time of the murder. Her murder remains unsolved.
In January 2002 in Houston, TX, Bibi Barajas (27), a transgender woman who had been involved in sex work, was found dead from multiple gunshot wounds to her neck, arm and chest. Her murder remains unsolved.
In April 2002 in El Paso, TX, Arlene Diaz (28), a transgender Latina, was killed by a single gunshot. Police classified the murder as a hate crime. The alleged assailant, Justen Hall (20), was charged with murder but sentenced to death on an unrelated murder charge before prosecution.
On June 18, 2003, in Houston, TX, Michael Hurd, a 23-year-old crossdresser was shot to death in
his car. Michael was found wearing a wig, make-up, and feminine attire. His murder remains unsolved.
On March 4, 2001, in Houston, TX, Francisco Luna (29), a transgender Latina woman, was shot
multiple times in the face, stomach and shoulder. Her case remains unsolved.
On January 8, 1999, in Austin, TX, Lauryn Paige (19), a transgender woman, was found dead – she had been stabbed with a knife more than 60 times and her throat cut so deeply that she was almost decapitated. Camaliel Coria (28) was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
On October 12, 2005, in Houston, TX, Christina Smith (20), a transgender woman was found
shot in the head on the front patio of her apartment. Her murder remains unsolved.
On August 16, 2003, in Washington, D. C., Bella Evangelista (25), a transgender Latina woman, was shot to death. Antoine Jacobs (22) confessed and was convicted of second-degree murder; he was sentenced to 17 years in prison.
In the early morning of August 12, 2002, in Washington, D. C., Ukea Davis (18) an African-American transgender woman, was killed with her friend Stephanie Thomas (also transgender) in a hail of automatic gun-fire from a passing car. Their assailant then returned on foot, walked up to their car, and fired another burst of more than 20 bullets into their dead bodies. Her murder remains unsolved. The two girls had been bullied so severely at school that they feared returning and had recently dropped out.
On April 23, 2000, in Washington, D. C., Tyra Henderson (22), an African-American transgender woman involved in sex work was found bludgeoned to death. Her murder remains unsolved.
On August 7, 1995, in Washington, D. C., Tyra Hunter (24), an African-American transgender woman, was critically injured in a car accident. According to witnesses, the emergency medical technician stopped working on her for two to five critical minutes to laugh with his partner after discovering that she had male genitalia. Tyra died as a result of her injuries.
On August 21, 2003, in Washington D. C., Emonie Kiera Spaulding (25), an African-American transgender sex worker, was shot and killed after her assailant learned that she was biologically male. Derrick A. Lewis (23) pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter while armed and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
On August 12, 2002, in Washington D. C., Stephanie Thomas (19), an African-American transgender woman, was killed with her friend Ukea Davis (also transgender) only a block from her home in a hail of automatic gun-fire from a passing car. Their assailant then returned on foot, walked up to their car, and fired another burst of more than 20 bullets into their dead bodies. Her murder remains unsolved. The two girls had been bullied so severely at school that they feared returning and had recently dropped out. Their murders remain unsolved.
On August, 21, 2003, in Washington, D.C., Imani Williams (24), an African-American transgender woman, was found beaten and shot to death. Her murder remains unsolved.
On December 31, 1993, in Humboldt, Nebraska, Brandon Teena, a trans man, was brutally raped and murdered by John L. Lotter and Marvin Thomas “Tom” Nissen, who he thought were his friends. He was raped and murdered when they found out that he was genetically female.
Please participate in TDOR this week… in honor of all those who have died just for living honestly. And as a message of support to all of those struggling - and as a message that we will not stand for hate and violence against trans people. Community is a beautiful and powerful thing.