Wash. Times Editorial Spreads Slurs, Lies, on Medicare's Trans Coverage

By Rebecca Juro

Originally published on Advocate.com June 06 2014 4:07 PM ET

An editorial published Wednesday by right-wing paper The Washington Times is full of inaccuracies and antitransgender slurs, arguing that a recent ruling by the Department of Health and Human Services lifting Medicare's blanket ban on transgender-specific health care will force American taxpayers to pay for “tranny grannies,” as the editorial's title puts it.

The inaccuracies in the editorial are numerous. It claims that “taxpayers would henceforth pay for changing old men into old women, and vice versa,” but the situation is not so cut-and-dried.

With the ruling still untested and formal policy changes yet to be revealed, all that is known is that the ban on transition-related care, like gender-confirming surgery and hormone therapy, has been lifted, clearing the way for transgender Medicare recipients to apply for coverage for such treatments. Whether such care will actually be provided through Medicare or by an outside provider will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

The editorial also conflates homosexuality with transsexuality, and makes the inaccurate presumption that all transgender people — those who would seek transition-related care — are homosexual.

The antitransgender bias and transmisogynistic tone of the editorial is never more clear than when the editorial describes Christine Jorgensen, one of the first openly trans women to appear in media, as “discarding [her] manhood.” The editorial then concludes that gender-affirming surgery is “not a medically necessary procedure, but an indulgence,” ignoring decades of medical consensus to the contrary. Clinical treatment for transgender individuals — including hormone therapy and, in some cases, gender-confirming surgery — has been deemed medically necessary by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, and is listed as an appropriate clinical intervention for those experiencing gender dysphoria in the American Psychiatric Association's latest edition of its industry standard Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.

Contributor: 
Rebecca Juro