Earlier today, Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler made an announcement clarifying that health insurance policies sold in Washington State cannot discriminate against transgender individuals.
This makes Washington the seventh state to issue a guidance letter or regulation, clarifying that health insurers in their state cannot discriminate based on gender identity.
For Henry Waymack, a transgender man from Tacoma, this is personal. Henry has been denied coverage for routine care in the past simply because he’s transgender. “It made me feel extremely uncomfortable, and I worried about how to have that conversation with my insurance company and what they would say to me,” said Henry. “It also concerned me that I could be denied coverage down the line for a broken arm just because I’m transgender.”
The whole experience made Henry afraid to go to the doctor’s office and receive the care he needed. This story echoes the experiences of many transgender people. In reaction to today’s news, Henry said, “This makes me feel more at ease seeking care in the future and gives me hope for transgender people who have had a hard time believing that their experiences with insurance companies will ever change.”
This is a big victory for our community! Pride Foundation has been honored to be a part of an incredible coalition—the Coalition for Inclusive Healthcare—working to ensure that we finally end discrimination in healthcare coverage, so that everyone has access to the care they need.
Today’s announcement is a reflection of our collective work and could not have been achieved without the tireless dedication of transgender leaders throughout the state.
Transgender exclusions in healthcare coverage are often written broadly and can be used to deny coverage for care that is completely unrelated to gender transition, such as routine blood work, or therapy. These same services are covered for non-transgender people.
Said best by Seth Kirby, Board President of Pride Foundation: “Because of these exclusions, healthcare coverage is being denied to transgender individuals on a daily basis. Ensuring medically necessary care for transgender people can and will save lives.”
This is an important first step in the state of Washington, but we recognize our work is not done. Pride Foundation will continue to build on this success both in Washington and across the region to guarantee that all transgender people have access to all live-saving healthcare services, regardless of type of insurance.
If you live in Washington and have questions about what this announcement means for you, read our FAQ.
Thanks to all the members of the Coalition for Inclusive Healthcare—without your hard work we never could have achieved this victory: ACLU of Washington, Basic Rights Oregon, City of Seattle LGBT Commission, Equal Rights Washington, Gay City Health Project, Gender Justice League, Greater Seattle Business Association, Human Rights Campaign, Ingersoll Gender Center, Lambda Legal, Legal Voice, LGBTQ Allyship, Lifelong, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, Oasis Youth Center, Pierce County AIDS Foundation, Pride Foundation, QLaw Foundation, Rainbow Center, Seattle Counseling Service, Seattle University School of Law Ronald A. Peterson Law Clinic, The Northwest Network, and Transgender Law Center.