Lina Kok, a 47-year-old transgender woman, recently won the right to paid medical leave for facial feminization surgery with help from the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund.
The insurance company used by Kok's employer denied her claim for short-term medical disability for the surgery (three weeks), deeming it cosmetic. Kok appealed the decision twice, saying the surgery is a medically necessary part of her gender transition. It's recognized by health professionals that having features inconsistent with one's identified gender can lead to mental distress for those with gender dysphoria.
After Kok's second denial by the insurance company, the legal defense fund got involved.
"Transgender-related health care is medically necessary care, and it should be treated that way in all respects," legal defense fund staff attorney Noah Lewis said in a statement. "No one should be denied benefits based on the incorrect view that transgender-related health care is optional or cosmetic. Transgender employees simply want the same benefits as any other employee."