Earlier today, FreeState Legal Project announced that Maryland has taken steps to remove language denying transition-related coverage to transgender state employees.
The move came in response to a lawsuit filed by FreeState Legal on behalf of transgender man and state employee Sailor Holobaugh. Holobaugh was denied coverage for a double mastectomy as a result of his gender identity, and was forced to pay for it out of pocket.
Holobaugh will be reimbursed for the cost of the procedure, and state employees will no longer be met by roadblocks denying them vital, transition-related health care, FreeState reports.
“Maryland has moved one step closer to achieving full equality and justice for transgender Marylanders," said Aaron Merki, executive director of FreeState Legal, in a press release. "We applaud this development, and look forward to a time when these discriminatory exclusions are removed from all public and private health insurance policies.”
Holobaugh, who works for the University of Maryland, Baltimore, was originally denied reimbursement for the procedures after filing a claim in 2013. Insurance agents denied Holobaugh's claim on the basis of a policy that excluded coverage for any "procedure or treatment designed to alter an individual's physical characteristics to those of the opposite sex."
Holobaugh's complaint alleged that the blanket exclusion of transition-related coverage ran contrary to a 2007 executive order prohibiting employment discrimination against state employees on the basis of their gender identity. Holobaugh filed his complaint in November 2013. In January 2014, he filed an additional complaint, this time with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights.
With the blanket exclusion of transition-related care removed from state employee health insurance policies, Maryland joins Oregon and California as the three states that have explicitly affirmed their commitment to providing state employees with medically necessary health care.