MADISON, Wisc. — The University of Wisconsin has been sued by two employees who are seeking to force the school to provide insurance coverage for sex change operations.
The case involves two men who identify as female: a research assistant who goes by the name Shannon Andrews, and a teaching assistant who goes by the name Alina Boyden. Both had previously filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) claiming a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
Andrews obtained the operation in 2015 and paid out of his own pocket. He sought to file a claim for coverage with the Wisconsin Physicians Service Insurance Corporation, but was denied as the procedure “is not covered based upon an exclusion in the plan.”
Boyden has not been able to go through with the surgery as he does not have the funds to cover the operation.
Wisconsin’s Department of Employee Trust Funds had viewed the procedure as not being medically necessary, but decided last year to change its policy, effective Jan. 1, due to a clause in the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) that prohibits discrimination based on sex.
However, just two days before the allowance was to take effect, the Department reverted to its original exclusion of “[p]rocedures, services, and supplies related to surgery and sex hormones associated with gender reassignment.”
Therefore, Andrews and Boyden sought right to sue letters from the EEOC, and with the assistance of the American Civil Liberties Union, the two filed a legal challenge on April 7th to seek an injunction, as well as compensatory and punitive damages.
“As a result of [state policies], plaintiffs’ health insurance plans single out transgender employees for unequal treatment by categorically depriving them of all medical care for gender dysphoria, a serious medical condition codified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and International Classification of Diseases,” the lawsuit reads in part.
“The state continues to deny our clients coverage for medically necessary treatment simply because they are transgender, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,” John Knight with the ACLU’s LGBT Project also said in a statement.
However, the state is standing by its belief that taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for others’ desire to live as the opposite sex.
“We believe the policy adopted by the [state] is a reasonable measure that protects taxpayers from funding sex changes for state employees and complies with both state and federal law,” Tom Evenson, spokesperson for Gov. Scott Walker, told the Sentinel-Journal.
In addition to the University of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Group Insurance Board, the Board of Regents and the Dean Health Plan are also included in the legal challenge.