Medicare ban on transgender healthcare overturned!

Today an independent board within the Department of Health and Human Services overturned Medicare’s coverage exclusion for transition-related medical procedures. 

Trans exclusion from health coverage is no accident: since 1989 Medicare has explicitly barred coverage of transition-related procedures. This followed the advocacy of trans exclusionary radical feminists like Janice Raymond, whose work led directly to coverage exclusions in federal and state programs.

It’s hard to overstate how huge a win this is for trans folks. As Veronica wrote here when news broke that HHS was close to lifting the ban:

Gender-affirming surgeries for trans folks are basic health care, and access to this health care for the folks who need it is a human right — as much as access to any kind of health care is. This health care can be nothing short of life-saving.

Medicare provides insurance for the elderly and people with disabilities. As the National Center for Transgender Equality explains in a fact sheet (pdf), lifting the Medicare ban does not directly impact private insurance, veteran’s care, or Medicaid, which serves low-income people. However, as Veronica also pointed out, Medicare policy has a lot of influence in the world of health insurance. The federal government has made a clear statement here that transition-related procedures are necessary healthcare. We can use the momentum of this win to push for clarification of policy from state Medicaid programs, and to fight the de facto and explicit exclusions that still exist.

We still have more work to do to ensure trans people have the basic human right of healthcare access. But this is a massive win, a defeat of some of feminism’s ugliest track record with transphobia and transmisogyny, and one of the most significant victories in the fight for trans rights.

Jos Truitt Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing and cried like a baby over this win.

Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

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