Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has warned insurance companies in New York that, by law, they will no longer be able to deny coverage for gender-reassignment surgery if a doctor has deemed it medically necessary.
According to The New York Times:
In a letter being sent to insurance companies this week, the governor said that because state law requires insurance coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of psychological disorders, people who are found to have a mismatch between their birth sex and their internal sense of gender are entitled to insurance coverage for treatments related to that condition, called gender dysphoria.
This rule will make will make New York the ninth state in the country to require insurance companies to cover the cost of this treatment.
The man pictured above, Lee Albertorio, told the Times that he felt like a man trapped in a woman's body. While serving in the Air Force, he began taking hormones. Then, he changed the gender listed on his passport to male, and, last year, decided to undergo a mastectomy (the surgical removal of one's breasts). But his insurance company wouldn't cover the procedure's cost, claiming it was for cosmetic reasons.
Now that the new rule is in place, however, Albertorio can complete his transition.
"This is an absolute sea change in the way that insurance for transgender people will cover their health care needs," Michael Silverman, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, told the Times. "This essentially opens up an entire world of treatment for transgender people that was closed to them previously."
We're hopeful that the change taking place in New York will set a precedent for insurance companies nationwide. It will further cement the rights of a group of people that's historically been marginalized. No person should ever have to struggle, like Albertorio, for the means to be their true self.
Photo credit: Damon Winter/The New York Times