Commissioners Continue to Struggle Over Trans Inclusive Healthcare

A Wilton Manors Commission resolution advocating that federal and state governments require health insurance plans cover transgender-related was supported but highlighted previous criticism over the commission’s failure to approve transgender benefits for city employees.

At the May 10 meeting, both Commissioner Julie Carson, who unsuccessfully proposed adding transgender benefits to the city’s health plan, and resident Michael Rajner criticized the commission for not approving the transgender benefits.

“It’s unfortunate that a body of mostly gay white men never took up the initiative to support the rest of the LGBT community,” Rajner said.

Rajner, who offered to pay for a transgender flag if the city would fly it with the Pride flag it plans to raise permanently at Jaycee Park, said the city is not being looked upon favorably in other parts of the country. He called the resolution “the chest pounding of just doing a simple resolution that doesn’t bring about any resolution.”

Last month, commissioners failed to pass Carson’s motion to add transgender surgery and medication costs to the city’s employee healthcare plan. The cost would have been $32,500 for just the rest of the fiscal year, even if no employee had utilized the coverage. At the time, commissioners said they couldn’t justify spending money on a service that wasn’t used. Mayor Gary Resnick said that the employees themselves should be the ones to request it.

Commissioner Justin Flippen defended the commission as he advocated for the resolution. “How we approach an issue doesn’t necessarily mean that we leave it behind when it is presented to us in a very narrowly articulated way. I have appreciated the continued discussion initiated on transgender healthcare.”

He said the commission has not been silent on supporting the transgender community but said that people criticizing the commission “have missed the boat. While we have not addressed this issue one way we are certainly addressing it in another.”

“What a sad moment we have. You have completely missed the point . . . absolutely off base,” responded Carson.

She went on to say that the city had “every opportunity to provide healthcare to its employees with the inclusion, not exclusion of care” and to “put our money where our mouth is. This resolution is a statement well needed but more than that our commission needed action.

We either stand for equality or we don’t.”

She also questioned the assumption that no city employee needs the benefits right now. “How many employees do we know would come forward and share information of a private matter? These communities are marginalized. It’s a life or death issue.”


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