The City of Phoenix announced Thursday it will offer coverage of transition-related healthcare to municipal employees and their families, making it the first Arizona city to offer transgender-inclusive healthcare coverage, The Republic reports.
“Providing transgender-inclusive health services is vital to the well-being of our employees, makes us a more sought-after employer, and is simply the right thing to do,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said in a statement.
Health insurance plans, including those currently offered by the city, often include specific exclusions barring coverage for care related to gender transition. The new coverage will include a range of care including hormone therapy as well as surgical procedures and is expected to take effect on January 1.
Phoenix joins a growing list of major U.S. cities and states that have updated their benefits to be trans-inclusive, including Austin, Chicago, San Francisco, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Miami Beach, Portland, and Seattle.
There was some pushback from groups including the local police union, which criticized the city for covering care it considers “elective” instead of things like contact lenses, orthopedic shoes, skin-tag removal, and in vitro fertilization.
But Michael Soto, a transgender board member of Equality Arizona, explained that not having appropriate health care can cause anxiety and depression.
“Living authentically as yourself every day is really hard” without access to transition-related care, Soto told The Republic.”You’ve always got a barrier and that stress of feeling disconnected from yourself.”