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Commissioners debate topic

The city’s health insurance plan already covers the physical well-being needs of employees. Now, Commissioner Julie Carson wants the plan to cover the physical and mental well-being of employees who are diagnosed as needing gender-reassignment surgery.

At the Nov. 24 commission meeting during a discussion of this year’s employee health plan, Carson suggested adding gender reassignment surgery to the 2017 employee health plan. It was a repeat of what she asked for in February of this year. “I would love for us to consider this. If this was some other procedure I don’t know if we’d be having this conversation.”

Dio Sanchez, director of Human Resources, said the city could provide the procedure through its insurance plan or by setting aside a budgeted amount of money. He estimates the cost would be between $40,000 and $60,000 for the surgery a total of about $75,000 after the inclusion of counseling and hormone replacement therapy. “I do not want an increase [in the budget] if it’s not going to be used,” said Commissioner Tom Green.

Mayor Gary Resnick said adding the benefits for gender reassignment would result in a cut to other benefits. “In 20 years [of being a city official] I’ve never had an employee ask for gender reassignment.” Resnick suggested LASIK eye surgery would be used by more employees.

Carson took issue with the comparison. “So you want to use LASIK as a comparison to gender reassignment surgery? [Gender reassignment] is far more complicated than LASIK. Not having it done is more detrimental.”

Resnick accused Carson of making the issue into a political one.

Carson, who called support of adding the surgery a “progressive” cause, conceded that the issue can be a political one but she also called it necessary. “This is about need.”

In 2012, the American Psychiatric Association [APA] voted to recognize gender dysphoria as a condition that should be treated.

The APA’s position is that individuals with gender dysphoria can “benefit greatly from medical and surgical gender transition treatments” and that health insurance, private and public, should cover gender transition treatment.