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DC orders transgender health care coverage

Mayor Vincent Gray announced new rules about what must be covered Thursday.
DC Mayor Vincent Gray speaks outside the White House Dec. 3, 2013 in Washington, DC
DC Mayor Vincent Gray speaks outside the White House Dec. 3, 2013 in Washington, DC

Washington D.C. will require insurance companies to provide health coverage to trans residents, including gender reassignment surgery.

Mayor Vincent Gray announced the change in policy Thursday, saying in a statement, “This action places the District at the forefront of advancing the rights of transgender individuals.” Washington D.C. has laws that ban discrimination against transgender people.

The D.C. Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking issued a bulletin Thursday noting that not only does D.C. law prohibit “discrimination in health insurance against people based on gender identity or expression,” but that surgery must be covered as well.

“[I]t is the position of the Department that treatment for gender dysphoria, including gender reassignment surgeries, is a covered benefit, and individuals diagnosed with gender dysphoria are entitled to receive medically necessary benefits and services under individual and group health insurance policies covering medical and hospital expenses,” the bulletin read.

Only a small handful of states have laws protecting transgender rights where health insurance is concerned, and without insurance coverage, medically necessary measures such as hormone therapy and different surgeries can be prohibitively expensive.

Transgender people, "should not have to pay exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses for medically necessary treatment,” Mayor Gray said in his statement.