US Workers Sue Georgia for Transgender Health Discrimination - medtigo



US Workers Sue Georgia for Transgender Health Discrimination

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Two state employees and a public-school media clerk are suing the state of Georgia in the southeastern United States, alleging that state health insurance unjustly discriminates against gender-transition care by refusing to pay for it.  

As per Al Jazeera, Wednesday’s complaint was filed in federal court in Atlanta by Micha Rich, Benjamin Johnson, and an unidentified state official on behalf of her adult child.  

They contend that Georgia’s State Health Benefit Plan (SHBP), which insures over 660,000 state government employees and public-school retirees, violates federal law.  

“The exclusion not only hurts the health and finances of transgender people seeking treatment for gender dysphoria, but it also promotes the stigma associated with being transgender, suffering from gender dysphoria, and seeking a gender transition,” the lawsuit contends.  

“The exclusion sends a message to transgender individuals and the general public that their state government considers them undeserving of equal treatment.”  

The plaintiffs argued that the exclusion of gender-transition healthcare from the SHBP should be reversed, and they should be reimbursed for money spent on uninsured services. In addition, they have claimed monetary damages and attorney fees. Fiona Roberts, a representative for the Department of Community Health, which administers the scheme, declined to comment.  

The lawsuit cites a Supreme Court opinion from 2020 declaring that treating someone differently because they are transgender or gay violates a part of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that prohibits discrimination based on sex. Among the plaintiffs, in that case, was a Clayton County, Georgia, employee.  

In addition, the lawsuit asserts that Georgia’s actions violate the 14th Amendment’s guarantee to equal protection and, in Johnson’s instance, federal restrictions against sex discrimination in education.  

Included among the claimants are three transgender guys. Rich is a staff accountant with the Department of Audits and Accounts of Georgia. In Macon, Johnson works as a media clerk for the Bibb County School District. The mother of the third man, named only as John Doe, is a Division of Family and Children Services, an administrative support worker in suburban Paulding County. Doe, a college student, is covered by her insurance. 

All three were assigned female at birth, but they transitioned after receiving therapy. All three women desired breast reduction or removal surgery. All three appealed their denials and were found to have been discriminated against by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The Department of Justice of the United States also initiated an investigation.  


In April, the Department of Community Health agreed to modify the rules of Georgia’s Medicaid program to settle a lawsuit filed by two Medicaid recipients. Some states are attempting to outlaw all gender-confirming care for children, prompting the current lawsuit. Next year, Georgia may explore such a ban.  

“They did not accept our proposal to negotiate an end to their discrimination without litigation, and they did not remove the exclusion,” stated Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund legal director David Brown, who represents the plaintiffs.  

The issue involves two state-funded health plans run by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and UnitedHealthcare.  

According to the lawsuit, insurers informed the agency in 2016 that transgender exclusions constituted discrimination. It further states that a state attorney informed the leadership of a health plan in July 2020 that a court would likely judge the rule to be unlawful.  

“Yet, the defendants have knowingly and purposefully perpetuated the exclusion year after year, long after it became clear – and the SBHP itself determined – that doing so constitutes unlawful discrimination,” the lawsuit alleges.  

A recent court verdict invalidated a similar prohibition in North Carolina. The state files an appeal. In 2018, a Wisconsin restriction was overturned. Brown stated that West Virginia and Iowa have also lost employee coverage lawsuits, while Florida and Arizona are being sued. 

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