Several state employees in North Carolina are suing the state for refusing to cover transition-related health care.
The plaintiffs, who filed suit yesterday, say that their health care no longer covers treatment for gender dysphoria, even though the plan did in the past.
Up until 2017, state employees’ health care in North Carolina covered transition-related care.
But Republican State Treasurer Dale Folwell took office that year and the health care has since been cut.
A spokesperson for Folwell said that he has taken no action to continue coverage of health care for transgender people even though the previous treasurer was supportive.
“We have to think of it like any medical condition that is treated by a doctor and is diagnosed,” said Lambda Legal lawyer Taylor Brown, who is leading the case.
“To have to live in a world that perceives you, and that assigns you, as something that you’re not… It can make life unlivable for many people. And that’s why we see such high suicide rates in the transgender community.”
The lawsuit says that the state is violating Title IX, the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, and the Affordable Care Act by denying coverage.
The plaintiffs include Connor Thonen-Fleck, 16, whose parents are both employees of a state university. Connor is transgender and his family will have to find the $10,000 to pay for top surgery if the state won’t cover it.
He said that the procedure would help him live his daily life.
“I used to not be able to take showers very often because I couldn’t stand to look at this body,” he said.
Even though he has a diagnosis for gender dysphoria, his family has had to pay for his testosterone out of pocket.
“Transgender people are treated differently,” Brown told the AP. “They’re not getting equal pay, in effect, for equal work.”