San Francisco Health Commission Votes to Provide Equal Health Care Access to Transgender Patients Covered by Healthy SF

SAN FRANCISCO – Transgender Law Center celebrated a unanimous vote today by the San Francisco Health Commission, the governing and policy-making body of the Department of Public Health, to implement the recommendations set forth in a resolution authored by Supervisor Scott Wiener and passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors last month which would remove transgender exclusions from the Healthy San Francisco (Healthy SF) health access program.

Healthy SF currently excludes transgender patients from accessing medically necessary transition-related care that is available to non-transgender patients. Transition-related care has been deemed medically necessary by the American Medical Association and numerous other professional health organizations. The removal of these exclusions follows a growing trend in government, educational institutions, and corporate America toward inclusion of health coverage for the medical needs of transgender people. The cities of San Francisco and Berkeley have already removed such exclusions for city employees.

Masen Davis, Executive Director, said “Removing these exclusions will make a real difference in the lives of transgender San Franciscans, especially those who struggle to make ends meet. I am grateful for the leadership of our HEALTH Council members, Supervisor Weiner, and many others who have all worked together to make this happen.”

Cyd Nova has first-hand experience being denied care through Healthy SF.  “Like so many of my transgender peers, my need for transition-related care was so important that I focused on it above meeting my other needs,” she said. “Today, as a trans health care provider, I often see participants at the clinic who face the predicament of choosing between saving money for transition related care or meeting basic needs. This resolution supports a move towards a healthy and empowered trans community.”

The San Francisco HEALTH Council, a group of community advocates convened by Transgender Law Center and Lyon Martin Health Services’ collaborative program Project HEALTH, has been working since 2010 to have transgender exclusions removed from Healthy SF. Thanks to their efforts and the work of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission and Supervisor Scott Wiener, the Department of Public Health has determined that the exclusions must be removed in order to create a system of health care where every San Franciscan can access the care they need to live healthy and productive lives. Once the change is implemented, which could take a few months, Healthy SF will offer a limited scope of transition-related care.

“I am filled with hope and gratitude that we are achieving this level of support for the well-being of the transgender community”, said Kathryn Steuerman, who is a member of the HEALTH Council. “Although I was fortunate enough to obtain medical coverage through my employers over the years, the exclusion of transition-related care from these insurance policies left me with no choice other than to utilize credit in order to obtain the care I truly needed. As a result, I was forced to go into deep debt from which it has been very difficult to emerge. Sadly, many of my peers do not even have access to the credit which allowed me to finally access this life-restoring care.”

Transgender Law Center’s report, The State of Transgender California, found that transgender Californians experience unemployment and poverty at rates twice the state average, 42% have delayed seeking health care because they could not afford it, and 26% report health conditions had worsened because they postponed care.

For more information or interview requests please contact Mark Snyder at 415.865.0176 x310 or mark@transgenderlawcenter.org.

Transgender Law Center works to change law, policy, and attitudes so that all people can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity or expression.