Rhode Island state workers get transgender surgery benefits

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP/WPRI) — Rhode Island state government employees will soon be receiving health care coverage for transgender surgeries and other sex change therapies.

Gov. Gina Raimondo announced Thursday the state’s employee health plan now covers both non-surgical and surgical treatments for gender identity disorder. That includes genital surgery, hormone-replacement therapy, psychotherapy and other related medical services.

“This isn’t a choice. We can’t discriminate on the basis of who people are,” Raimondo said.

Raimondo said the benefit change is effective July 1 and will be available to over 13,000 state workers, as well as any dependents aged 18 years or older.

“It’s the right thing to do. There’s no place for discrimination in Rhode Island – period,” she said. “On any basis -race, gender, sexual identity. That’s not who we are.”

Department of Administration spokeswoman Brenna McCabe says the sex reassignment surgeries will be 100 percent covered for qualified patients after they meet their annual deductible.

In 2001, Rhode Island became the second state to explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression.

Gwendolyn Howard was one of the people who pushed for it. She said she remembers how it was before the ban.

“If the wrong people knew who you were, you could be fired, you could be harassed, you could lose your apartment and all of that could be done legally,” she said.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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