On April 13, the Health Service System (HSS) Board met to discuss the proposed updated Gender Dysphoria Benefits for 2018 plan year.
Gender dysphoria is distress that is caused by a discrepancy between a person’s gender identity and that person’s sex assigned at birth. In 2001, the San Francisco Health Service System became the first large public employer in the United States to include gender dysphoria care (including reassignment surgery) as part of its employee health design.Gender dysphoria care is part of San Francisco’s Transgender Health Benefit.
The updated benefits policy was proposed by HSS Acting Director Greggs, to be read as follows:
“It shall be the policy of the San Francisco Health Service System and the Health Service Board to fully recognize medically necessary treatment for gender dysphoria as part of the full scope of benefits offered to members.”
The updated policy also recommended the expansion of current gender dysphoria benefit offerings to include services like reconstructive surgery and facial feminization or masculinization deemed medically necessary.
Blue Shield’s Senior Medical Director of Policy and Technology Assessment, Doctor Anthony Jay Van Gore, testified on the definition of medical necessity and spoke in support of the updated Gender Dysphoria Benefits policy, as did WPATH, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.
Senior advisor of transgender issues to the Mayor’s Office, Theresa Sparks, also testified on the importance of the inclusion of facial feminization to the health benefit:
“We continually get asked questions like, ‘Are you a boy or are you a girl?’ A month ago, I was thrown out of the Starbucks on Fillmore Street, because she said, ‘We’ve seen people like you here before, and we’re not going to serve you.’ It happens to people all over all over San Francisco, and we are the easiest city in the United States to be a transgender person. There are children beat up trying to use the bathroom associated with their sex gender, rather than their gender identity. Those are facts. The concept of facial feminization is not just a psychological issue; it’s not only a self-esteem issue. It’s truly becoming a safety issue.”
Local 21 stood in support of the policy; Representative/ Organizer Emma Erbach eloquently testified on behalf of Local 21:
“On behalf of our members who are currently accessing these procedures for themselves or dependents, we thank you for taking this issue up and for broadening the range of options available for them to discuss with their doctors if it’s deemed medically necessary.”
She went on to say, “I want to make a point about the city being an employer of choice. Even if San Francisco can’t offer the highest paycheck, the city is an inclusive employer. It’s not just non-discriminatory, it’s that San Francisco is a workplace where people can choose to come and feel they will be respected, that they will be valued. The more we can do this for transgender employees, and for our prospective employees, the better we will be able to serve the people of San Francisco. It’s great to see San Francisco continue to uphold our well-deserved reputation for not being afraid to stand up for what’s right, even when other parts of the country are not doing the same.”
The new policy was unanimously approved by the Board.
Read the other April 2017 Cityline articles below: