Important Wisconsin Ruling Affirms Right to Nondiscriminatory Healthcare Coverage for Transgender State Workers

By Shane Stahl • September 19, 2018 • 5:54 pm

A federal judge in Wisconsin has ruled that transgender state employees are entitled to healthcare coverage for “[p]rocedures, services, and supplies related to surgery and sex hormones associated with gender reassignment,” striking down an existing state ban on the coverage late Tuesday, September 18.

Judge William M. Conley, presiding over the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, decided for Alina Boyden and Shannon Andrews in the case of Boyden v. Conlin. The case was brought by the ACLU and argued that banning transition-related healthcare coverage was a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which prohibits employment discrimination based on sex) and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (which prohibit discrimination in health care based on sex). A series of decisions over the past several years in federal appellate courts across the country (including 2018’s Zarda v. Altitude Express and EEOC v. R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes) have held that Title VII’s sex discrimination ban also bars discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.  Because the two women are government employees, Conley also ruled that the coverage ban violated the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.

Every major medical group and association in the country has reached a consensus that transition-related healthcare is safe and effective, and may be necessary for the well-being and overall health of transgender people. Medical decisions, after all, should be made solely by a patient and their doctors. We are glad to see the courts continuing to rule in favor of the equal treatment and dignity of transgender people. Congratulations to Alina and Shannon, and to our legal partners at the ACLU on this well-deserved victory.

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