MILWAUKEE, Wisc. — A medical researcher at the University of Wisconsin has filed a discrimination complaint for being denied coverage for a sex change operation.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed the complaint on Tuesday with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of a cancer researcher at the University of Wisconsin Medical School who goes by the name Shannon Andrews.
Andrews’ complaint is lodged against both the school and WPS Insurance, as the university’s employee plans exclude “procedures, services, and supplies related to surgery and sex hormones associated with gender reassignment.”
Andrews, 34, who was born a male but identifies as a woman, told reporters this week that he has struggled with his gender identity since he was 15. Due to problems with anxiety and depression over the matter, Andrews decided last year to change his appearance into that of a woman.
“It came to a point where this has to change or I’m going to have worse health problems,” he told the Wisconsin State Journal.
But when Andrews went to have the operation, he learned that it wouldn’t be covered under the group policy and consequently paid for the operation himself.
The Group Insurance Board later changed its policy, but Andrews filed a complaint for not being covered for his personal needs.
“To be singled out for a denial of coverage is hurtful and burdensome,” Andrews said in a statement released by the ACLU. “I’m glad the State of Wisconsin has finally announced its plan to end this discriminatory exclusion, but the change comes too late for me. Too many transgender people continue to face coverage denials just like this.”
In the discrimination complaint, the ACLU asserts that the denial violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act because it is gender-related.
“These exclusions arbitrarily target transgender people for discrimination by forcing them to pay out-of-pocket for medically necessary services,” Wisconsin Legal Director Larry Dupuis said in a statement.
As previously reported, the ACLU also recently filed a discrimination complaint for a prison nurse who identifies as male and was likewise denied coverage for a sex change operation.
Jesse Vroegh, 34, was diagnosed with gender dysphoria in 2014 and informed her employers at Iowa Correctional Institution for Women that she would be transitioning into a man.
Last November, she asked for permission to use the mens’ restroom, but was denied due to concerns about “the rights of the male officers.” She was also not permitted to use the men’s showers being a woman.