Publisher’s Note: This unsigned SFGN editorial ran in our May 5 newspaper. I’ve decided to rerun it since Wilton Manors installed their permanent Pride flag last week. But this editorial is a reminder that pride is more than just a flag.
Recently Wilton Manors decided to show the world how LGBT-friendly the city is by voting to permanently install a Pride Flag in a city park. But last week they decided to not to add gender confirmation surgery to their employee’s health plan.
Symbolism is important and so we applaud the city for permanently displaying the Pride Flag. But that symbolism should be backed up with real policy. And the city had a chance last week to do just that, but instead commissioner after commissioner, offered up excuse after excuse, on why they couldn’t offer transgender inclusive healthcare to their employees.
It was a disgrace.
Wilton Manors is one of the gayest cities in America and should be leading the charge on trans rights, but instead they passed a toothless resolution calling on state regulators to add transgender-related procedures and treatments to current standards of care.
Really? The State of Florida taking the lead on transgender healthcare? This is the same legislature that attempted to pass a “bathroom bill” just last year.
Commissioner Julie Carson brought up the motion to add these benefits, which didn’t even receive a second.
“A ‘second’ is a professional courtesy in parliamentary procedure that allows discussion to ensue,” Carson said. “My colleagues would not even engage in an open dialogue on transgender equity in our City.”
If these benefits primarily affected gay men would Carson have gotten her second?
Before gay marriage was the law of the land many cities such as Wilton Manors provided healthcare to an employee’s domestic partner, but in doing so employees were hit with a tax penalty because the federal government didn’t equate an unmarried partner to a spouse when it came to taxes. In order to make it more fair Wilton Manors voted to pay $750 to those employees affected by the extra tax burden.
The commission was quite proud of itself at the time. Mayor Gary Resnick even wrote a letter to the editor to the Sun Sentinel patting himself on the back.
“To put this in perspective, the city spends in excess of $1.1 million on health insurance for employees,” he wrote. And added with flourish at the end “Wilton Manors truly values its diversity.”
The estimated cost to add trans inclusive healthcare would be $32,500 per year. That’s not a lot when you put it into “perspective.”
If this trans inclusive healthcare didn’t cost the city a dime you bet they would have voted in favor of adding these benefits. But as is often the case when politicians are forced to put their money where their mouth is their true priorities come out. The trans community needs more folks that are willing to stand up for them even when it costs money to do so.
Wilton Manors needs to stand for more than just a vibrant main street.
Instead of giving the trans community a flag, give them the inclusive healthcare they need. Gender Confirmation Surgery isn’t something people have done for the hell of it.
“We know that discrimination increases suicide risk, and transgender people in states without LGBT legal protections are at higher risk of suicide, it is imperative that we adopt comprehensive trans-inclusive anti-discrimination and employment policies,” Carson said. “Proper health care for transgender individuals can be life-saving reports the American Medical Association.”
And $32,500 a year is small price to pay. How much will the city spend on upgrading Wilton Drive? How much have they spent on additional parking? The list goes on and on.
“Each in his own way suggested that the City did not need this coverage because it was not ‘employee driven’ or that ‘no one came forward.’ Really?,” Carson said. “When was it an employee’s obligation to tell an employer that he or she needed medical care?”
SFGN calls on Mayor Gary Resnick and commissioners Scott Newton, Justin Flippen, Tom Green to reconsider this vital part of trans health.
Perhaps the city should amend its new tagline to say “Life’s just better here…except for transgender employees.”
Meanwhile trans employees can find solace at Jaycee Park while watching the city’s newly installed pride flag wave back and forth welcoming visitors to this city of equality.