It looks like San Francisco will be the first U.S. city to cover sex reassignment surgeries, thus saving uninsured transgender residents from going into debt due to super costly gender transition operations. Related: San Francisco is the best.
The city's first steps toward that goal are somewhat ideological: the Health Commission agreed this week to drop sex reassignment surgery from the list of operations that are specifically barred from Healthy San Francisco, the city's 5-year-old universal health care plan. (The city provides transgender people with services such as hormones and counseling, but doesn't offer any surgical alternatives.) Obviously, saying "we'll no longer not cover this procedure" isn't the same thing as, you know, actually covering it.
But while the move might be a "symbolic process" for now, as Public Health Director Barbara Garcia put it, the Commission also voted on Tuesday to create a separate, comprehensive program that will cover all aspects of transgender health, including surgical transition. Garcia told the AP that she hopes the program will be up and running by late next year. Making moves!
The decision is obviously beyond exciting for San Francisco — "I am filled with hope and gratitude that we are achieving this level of support for the well-being of the transgender community," one member of a local transgender health advocacy group said — but it's exciting for advocates around the country, too, who hope the city will serve as a model for others, since it has before: in 2001, SF became the first city in the country to cover sex reassignment surgeries for government employees. Last year, Portland, Oregon followed.
More U.S. companies covered the cost of gender reassignment surgery for transgender workers last year than ever before — the number actually doubled — further highlighting the growing number of companies and communities who understand that sex reassignment surgery is a necessary medical procedure, not (as should go without saying) a frivolous way to switch up your look, and should be treated accordingly.
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