Boston City Councilors Michelle Wu & Ayanna Pressley File Gender Identity Non-Discrimination Ordinance

Boston City Councilors At-Large Michelle Wu and Ayanna Pressley today filed an ordinance to ensure that transgender City of Boston employees will be fully included in city-sponsored health care coverage.

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Boston City Councilors At-Large Michelle Wu and Ayanna Pressley today filed an ordinance to ensure  that transgender City of Boston employees will be fully included in city-sponsored health care coverage.

Boston City Councilors At-Large Michelle Wu and Ayanna Pressley today filed an ordinance to ensure that transgender City of Boston employees will be fully included in city-sponsored health care coverage.

BOSTON, Mass.—Boston City Councilors At-Large Michelle Wu and Ayanna Pressley today filed an ordinance to ensure that transgender City of Boston employees will be fully included in city-sponsored health care coverage. The ordinance will be discussed at the April 16th meeting of the Boston City Council.

“The City of Boston should set the standard as being an inclusive workplace to attract the most talented and committed employees,” said Wu. “The goal of this ordinance is to ensure comprehensive healthcare coverage for all municipal employees, regardless of gender identity or expression. It’s the best economic policy and the right thing to do.” [pullquote]“The City of Boston should set the standard as being an inclusive workplace to attract the most talented and committed employees,” said Wu. “The goal of this ordinance is to ensure comprehensive healthcare coverage for all municipal employees, regardless of gender identity or expression. It’s the best economic policy and the right thing to do.”[/pullquote]

“This is a matter of health equity and fairness; this ordinance is a small step that will have a big impact on the health and well-being of our City’s transgender employees and their families,” said Pressley. “This is one of many civil rights issues facing our trans neighbors – no one should have to feel like a second class citizen. I am grateful for the many advocates who have been working on this for years and I thank Mayor Walsh for supporting this piece of the Elevate Boston Coalition’s pledge. I am honored to do my part to advance this.”

The gender identity non-discrimination ordinance aims to cover transition-related care for individuals suffering from Gender Dysphoria, a well-recognized medical condition affecting many transgender people. Transition-related treatment may include mental health services, hormone therapy, gender-affirmation surgery, and other services. Currently, there is no requirement for health insurance companies insuring municipal workers to cover transition-related care, and it is not covered by the city’s present health care plan offerings.

The ordinance amends Chapter V, Section 5 of the Boston Municipal Code to add:

The City of Boston, to the extent permissible by federal and state law after this ordinance is in force, shall not contract with any health insurance company that refuses to insure any person or that discriminates in the amount of premium, policy fees, or rates charged for any policy or contract of insurance, or in the benefits payable thereunder, or in any terms or conditions of such contract, because of gender identity or expression.

In the order, Wu and Pressley cite the Cities of Seattle, San Francisco and Washington D.C., where coverage for transition-related care is provided. In Portland, Oregon, costs increased only 0.08% after removing exclusions on coverage of transition-related care for city employees. In the first five years of San Francisco’s coverage, which began in 2001, the City averaged only 7.4 claims for gender-affirmation surgery per year—and dropped a premium surcharge that it had wrongly thought would be necessary to cover the services. [pullquote]””This is one of many civil rights issues facing our trans neighbors – no one should have to feel like a second class citizen. I am grateful for the many advocates who have been working on this for years and I thank Mayor Walsh for supporting this piece of the Elevate Boston Coalition’s pledge. I am honored to do my part to advance this.” said Pressley.[/pullquote]

“This ordinance is a pivotal step toward ensuring that transgender city workers have access to comprehensive healthcare coverage just like all other city workers,” said MassEquality Executive Director Kara Coredini. “Thank you to Boston City Councilors Ayanna Pressley and Michelle Wu for their leadership on this issue and for helping Boston become even more welcoming of the transgender community. With this ordinance, Boston follows the trend of other states and cities in ending healthcare discrimination against transgender people. We hope other cities, towns, and the Commonwealth will quickly follow suit.”

[From a News Release]

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