I won’t write much here because I say what I need to say in person here:
The link to comment is here.
If you want ideas about what to say, here is what I wrote:
As a transgender man, co-owner of a small business, consumer of health insurance through the ACA and active, voting citizen, I am writing to encourage full protection of transgender healthcare in health insurance including transgender related hormones, surgeries and other procedures.
Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act is quite possibly the most important part of the entire legislation. If this part of the law prohibiting the discrimination on the ground of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability is not interpreted to include all transgender care it is still discriminatory.
It is a giant step toward equal access to health care to ensure that transgender individuals will not be categorically excluded from insurance, but it is critical to stress specifically that transgender healthcare must be protected so that in practical use, the access to treatment isn’t eroded by language that categorizes important surgeries and procedures as merely cosmetic.
The arguments against this – that it would put too great a burden on the taxpayer, that it would erode religious freedoms, that transgender surgeries are not necessary or are mutilations of the patients’ bodies – are red herrings. The real resistance to it is caused by ignorance fueled by misinformation disseminated by those who stand to profit from excluding us.
Cost to Taxpayer –
“The California Department of Insurance released an economic-impact assessment in April 2012 comparing the costs and benefits of a California law prohibiting insurance discrimination against transgender people. The department concluded that removing exclusions that target transgender people has an “immaterial” impact on premium costs and that “the benefits of eliminating discrimination far exceed the insignificant costs.”
“Inaccurate actuarial projections about the costs associated with gender transition and the size of the transgender population underlie many inflated estimates of the cost of equal coverage. The city of San Francisco, for example, charged $1.70 in additional monthly premiums for each enrollee when it removed transgender-specific exclusions from the coverage it offers to its employees and introduced a rider for medically necessary care related to gender transition in 2001. Over the next five years, the city collected $5.6 million in excess premiums and paid out only $386,417 on 37 claims. As a result, the premium surcharge was dropped in 2006, and the city affirmed coverage for medically necessary transition-related care as part of its core benefit package.” (quotes taken from – [URL REMOVED]
Religious Freedom –
The specter of the loss of religious freedom has been present in every wave of civil rights movements. Ensuring the protection of the care and civil rights of a segment of the population does not erode the freedom of religion. In fact, the strenuous protection of every American’s civil rights and safety, even if the person doesn’t agree with or fit into mainstream societal norms, also protects the rights of those who worship to worship in any way they feel compelled – even if it does not fit into mainstream societal norms.
The Necessity of Transgender Surgeries and Healthcare Related to Transition
I have known people who have gone into staggering debt, lost their families, friends, jobs, homes and reputations to finish their transition. Desperation is an ugly thing. This kind of desperation – and believe me, I have felt it like a boot crushing my throat – is all consuming, much the same way the search for new lungs, the panicked attempt to locate a lost child or running into a burning building to pull a loved one out of the flames is all consuming. The yawning black hole of the darkest, most evil depression and sorrow threatens everything.
This is not a nose job. This is not teeth whitening. This is not simply a haircut and a new wardrobe. It is bigger. It is necessary.
This administration has the unique opportunity to change the world for transgender Americans like me – to include me as a whole person, protected and respected as much as anyone else. If it fails to interpret and enforce the inclusion of ALL trans healthcare, it will have failed me. It will have left me in a sinking lifeboat far off shore without the hope of ever having access to the medical treatment I need.