opmYesterday, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the agency that administers health care for federal employees, instructed health insurance companies that provide health care for federal employees and retirees to remove any blanket exclusions of health care coverage services related to gender transition by January 1, 2016. For years, insurance carriers for federal workers and retirees categorically denied treatment for transgender workers based on a general exclusion related to gender transition or “sex transformations.”

The change means that, effective January 1, 2016, transgender federal employees will have the same access to services and treatments already available to non-transgender employees.

Transgender Law Center congratulates our colleagues at the National Center for Transgender Equality on this hard-fought win, which has been years in the making. The federal government is the largest employer in the country, with more than 4 million employees. The change means that federal transgender workers and retirees will be provided with equal health care coverage.

Currently, California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Washington, and the District of Columbia similarly prohibit blanket exclusions of transition-related health care for state employees.

To understand the impact of removing line-item exclusions of transition-related care, see our FAQ from 2013, when California’s Department of Managed Health Care issued a similar policy.

The OPM carrier letter is available here.

If you’re working on eliminating trans exclusions in your city, state, or company, check out our how-to guide, Negotiating for Inclusive Health Insurance Coverage.