KSTP reports that a 63-year old transgender man, who wants his breasts removed, is suing the state of Minnesota because sex reassignment surgery isn’t covered under the state’s Medicaid plan nor the Minnesota Care public health plan.
Evan Thomas stated he’s battled depression and that, “Transgender people have the same right to health care as everyone else. This is why, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Minnesota, I’m challenging Minnesota’s ban on Medical Assistance coverage of this important part of health care for transgender people.”
During the last legislative session, Democrats introduced legislation to require taxpayers to fund sex-change operations and drugs under the state’s Medicaid program, called Medical Assistance. Currently, counseling and hormone drugs are covered. Sen. Scott Dibble, D-Minneapolis was the author of SF 2141. Co-authors were Sen. Chris Eaton, D- Brooklyn Center, Sen. Kathy Sheran, D-Mankato, Sen. John Marty, D-Roseville, and Sen. Sandra Pappas, D-St. Paul. The bill didn’t make it out of committee.
KSTP reports, “For some perspective, from 1977 to 1998 Minnesota covered gender reassignment surgeries. Then, until 2005, state legislators said if you had started your transition you could finish it. Since then, Minnesota lawmakers put an end to it.” Thomas told KSTP of the desire for breast removal surgery, “For me this is an essential next step, and my doctors know this, we all know this, and at the same time here is the state just slamming this door in my face and saying no, you have to stop here, if you’re in pain that’s just too bad.”
According to Market Watch, full sex reassignment surgery can cost $10,000-$100,000, with the majority of people electing surgery spending between $30,000-$40,000.
The 63-year-old Minnesota man will qualify for Medicare in two more years, which now covers gender transition surgeries on a “case by case” basis according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.
New York, Massachusetts, California, Oregon, Washington, and Vermont also pay for sex change operations under their Medicaid programs. The coverage is a result of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and rules that prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. In October, California became the first state in the nation to approve of taxpayer-funded sex change surgery for its prison inmates.