In what appears to be a growing national trend, another public enterprise is being sued for failing to pay for transgenders’ costly sex-change surgery. The plaintiffs in this latest case are two veteran state workers—both men—in Florida who allege sex discrimination because the state’s insurance policy doesn’t cover surgical procedures to help make them women. One of them, Jami Claire, is a senior biological scientist at the University of Florida (UF), the state’s premier university, which is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit. The other, Kathryn Lane, is an attorney in the Tallahassee public defender’s office. Both men take hormones and undergo electrolysis to make them more feminine.
Now they want taxpayers in the Sunshine State to fund expensive surgeries to alter their genitals and face. Claire, who is 62 years old, and Lane, 39, claim to have gender dysphoria that requires gender-affirming care explicitly excluded by the state’s health insurance program which covers more than 350,000 employees and dependents. “Gender dysphoria is a serious, but treatable, medical condition,” according to the federal complaint filed this week is U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida. “Left untreated it can lead to debilitating distress, depression, anxiety, impairment of function, substance abuse, self-surgery to alter one’s genitals, or secondary sex characteristics, self-injurious behavior and even suicide.” That makes “gender-affirming care” medically necessary, the lawsuit says, adding that singling out transgender employees for unequal treatment constitutes “unlawful sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Equal Protection Clause.”
Claire, the UF scientist, is a Navy veteran who has been living as a female for more than two decades and has a “well-established social and professional identity as a woman,” the complaint says. In 1997 he was diagnosed gender dysphoria and began taking hormones and undergoing electrolysis for hair removal. His wife and children disowned him and the “financial toll of the divorce” made gender-affirming treatments unaffordable so he stopped them until a few years ago. In 2016 Claire resumed gender affirmation treatments to “live authentically as a woman,” a medical necessity, the lawsuit says, because Claire experienced constant stress, anxiety, pain and anguish as man. In 2018 Claire paid for a breast augmentation to feminize his body. Now he wants the state to pay for the surgical removal of his testicles, but his public insurance plan denied the procedure.
Lane, the attorney, also has a “well-established social and professional identity as a woman,” according to the complaint. He began experiencing gender dysphoria since the age of five but suppressed his “female identity” for many years, causing “severe depression and anxiety.” In 2012, Lane finally embraced his female identity and began hormone and facial/body hair removal treatments. Lane also began growing out the hair on his head to “be identified more easily as a female.” In 2015 he paid for breast augmentation surgery. The lawyer wants the state insurance plan to pay for an expensive cosmetic procedure known as “facial feminization surgery” essential to treating gender dysphoria. “Facial features play an important part in being recognized as a particular gender,” the lawsuit says. “The public’s ability to recognize an individual as transgender based on their facial features places that individual at risk of violence, harassment, and discrimination.”
Governments are increasingly being forced to pay for the pricey cosmetic treatments of transgender people who claim to be stuck in the wrong body. Thousands of dollars are annually spent to give transgender jail inmates nationwide hormone treatments, laser hair removal and makeup. In Massachusetts a convicted murderer actually sued the Department of Corrections to pay for sex-change surgery. Last year a federal judge forced Wisconsin taxpayers to provide sex reassignment surgery and hormonal procedures for low-income transgender residents who get free medical care from the government. In his ruling, the federal judge wrote that Medicaid, the publicly funded insurance that covers 65.7 million poor people, cannot deny the medical treatment needs of those suffering from “gender dysphoria.” Officials estimate it will cost up to $1.2 million annually to provide transgender Medicaid recipients in the Badger State with treatments such as “gender confirmation” surgery, including elective mastectomies, hysterectomies, genital reconstruction and breast augmentation.