On Friday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Departmental Appeals Board announced that transgender people seeking sex reassignment surgery are now allowed to have those surgeries paid for by their Medicare coverage.
The previous policy – which had been in place since 1981 – had banned individuals who received Medicare from getting sex reassignment surgeries because the procedures were considered "experimental" and not "safe" enough, reports the Washington Post. The new ruling is in response to a lawsuit filed by 74-year-old Army vet Denee Mellon who wanted to tried to have her genital reconstruction surgery paid for by Medicare in 2012 but was denied.
Mellon was represented in part by the ACLU, which released a statement saying that, "This decision removes a threshold barrier to coverage for medical care for transgender people under Medicare. It is consistent with the consensus of the medical and scientific community that access to gender transition-related care is medically necessary for many people with gender dysphoria." It's believed that a ruling like this could also encourage private insurance companies to cover surgeries that fall under this category.
Image via Craig Fritz/AP