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Starbucks Expands Transgender Health Care Benefits

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Starbucks announced Monday that it is expanding health insurance benefits for its transgender employees.

Its health insurance program now covers procedures that were previously considered cosmetic, such as top surgery, facial feminization, and hair transplants. Gender-affirmation surgery, or bottom surgery, has been covered by Starbucks' health insurance plans since 2012.

Alyssa Brock and Ron Crawford, president and vice president of benefits at Starbucks, contacted the World Professional Association for Transgender Health last year for consultation on translating recommendations for transgender health care into policy.

“The approach was driven not just by the company’s desire to provide truly inclusive coverage, and by powerful conversations with transgender partners about how those benefits would allow them to truly be who they are,” Crawford said in an article published on the Starbucks Newsroom site.

Jamison Green, a trans man and former president of WPATH, collaborated with Brock and Crawford on the benefits package. Starbucks was the first company ever to ask WPATH for assistance in designing a health care plan beneficial to its trans employees.

“Starbucks was not afraid to ask all the right questions and demand that people get the best possible care,” Green told Starbucks Newsroom. “We produced a list of the most crucial benefits and those that are deemed problematic to insurance companies, such as facial feminization and electrolysis.”

Starbucks has a documented history of supporting the LGBT community and involving itself in related controversies. Starbucks implemented gender-neutral bathrooms in its D.C. locations in 2010 and announced its opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act in 2011. The latter action prompted the National Organization for Marriage to stage a boycott of Starbucks, which in turn prompted a counter-boycott on behalf of the LBGT community. Starbucks had also garnered attention for its pro-LGBT stance during a boycott of Chick-Fil-A, whose CEO opposes marriage equality.

In 2015, Starbucks teamed with the Seattle police department to train its employees on responding to victims of anti-LGBT violence and reporting anti-LGBT hate crimes. After a racially motivated arrest of two black men at a Starbucks location, Starbucks shut down 2,000 locations May 29 for training on how to avoid racial bias.

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