By Trudy Ring
Originally published on Advocate.com June 21 2013 5:59 PM ET
The California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the nation’s largest public pension fund and the administrator of health benefits for 1.3 million enrollees, agreed this week to cover treatment related to gender transition effective next year.
The CalPERS board voted Wednesday to make such treatment available to beneficiaries, who include state, municipal, and public agency employees, as of January 1. A coalition of labor organizations and transgender rights groups, including the Service Employees International Union and the Transgender Law Center, had been advocating for the move for over a decade. Also, earlier this year a state regulatory agency, the Department of Insurance and Department of Managed Health Care, had directed health plans in California to “remove benefit and coverage exclusions and limitations related to gender transition services.”
“We’re incredibly proud of the CalPERS Board for taking action to make sure transgender people are treated fairly and have the same access to care as everyone else,” said Masen Davis, executive director of the Transgender Law Center, in a news release. “CalPERS joins a growing list of public and private sector entities that have decided the time has come to end exclusionary policies.”
According to the Human Rights Campaign, 287 major private employers included in its most recent Corporate Equality Index “reported coverage of basic medical services related to sex reassignment, including surgical services.” Many other public and private employers offer such benefits, and the CalPERS vote makes the state of California “the largest employer to offer explicitly transgender-inclusive coverage,” the HRC notes.