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Thursday, June 20, 2024 | Back issues
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Class action filed over Arizona’s transgender employees’ health care

A transgender University of Arizona professor sued the state Thursday because the university doesn’t cover gender reassignment surgery prescribed by his doctor.

TUCSON, Ariz. (CN) — A transgender University of Arizona professor sued the state Thursday because the university doesn’t cover gender reassignment surgery prescribed by his doctor.

Russell B. Toomey, an associate professor of family studies and human development, filed the class action in federal court in Tucson on behalf of all state employees and their dependants, claiming the exclusion of a prescribed hysterectomy related to his gender reassignment violates the 14th Amendment of the Constitution and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

All other medically required hysterectomies are covered, but not for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, which is Toomey’s diagnosis and one that many insurance plans use to qualify gender reassignment, according to the lawsuit. Toomey is represented by lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union.

“The Plan provides coverage for the same hysterectomies when prescribed as medically necessary treatment for other medical conditions. But, the Plan categorically excludes coverage for hysterectomies when they are medically necessary for purposes of ‘gender reassignment,’” the lawsuit says.

That categorical exclusion violates the Constitution and the Civil Rights Act, Toomey argues.

“Arizona provides the same discriminatory health plan to nearly all state employees and their dependents. That means hundreds, if not thousands, of transgender state employees or transgender dependents of state employees cannot receive medically necessary care,” Toomey wrote Thursday on the ACLU blog Speak Freely.

When other procedures' medical necessity is questioned, according to the lawsuit, there is an appeal process, but not for gender dysphoria.

Transgender-related surgeries are automatically denied for state employees, even though all four health insurance companies that offer coverage under the state plan have opt-in standards for determining necessity of transgender surgery, the lawsuit says.

Toomey was born a woman. He began testosterone therapy in 2003 and started living and identifying as a man. He had a medically prescribed mastectomy in 2004, according to the lawsuit.

He is asking the state to remove the exclusion for transgender surgery and adopt a standard policy for assessing medical necessity of the surgery, the lawsuit says.

“I know of at least 20 families affiliated with the University of Arizona that are harmed by the state’s anti-trans health insurance policy ... I filed this lawsuit not only for me but also for all of the transgender and nonbinary youth and adults in Arizona whose lives would be made better by knowing that there is one less law that discriminatorily targets them,” Toomey wrote on the ACLU blog.

A spokeswoman for the Arizona Board of Regents did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday evening.

Categories / Government, Health, Law

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