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State health plan to cover gender transition treatment, surgery

Starting next year, the health plan for teachers and other state employees will offer coverage of medically necessary treatment and surgery related to gender transition.

The incoming state treasurer, Republican Dale Folwell, isn’t happy about it. But as the Madison Iszler from the News & Observer reports, the state doesn’t have much choice (for now).

State officials said they had no choice but to add the gender treatments to the insurance coverage for teachers and other state employees because of federal regulations that were finalized in May. The board of trustees for the State Health Plan for Teachers and State Employees voted last Friday to remove previous exclusions that prevented coverage of sex changes, modifications and psychological treatments connected to gender changes.

The change allowing such coverage had to be in effect for the next benefit year, which begins Jan. 1, state leaders said.

“If the Plan did not take action to comply with the federal law and federal regulation, the Plan would have risked losing millions of dollars in federal funding and faced discrimination lawsuits for non-compliance,” said Brad Young, press secretary for the State Treasurer’s Office, in an email.

Medical and psychological experts agree transgender people face serious dangers from gender dysphoria that can be helped by such treatments. Despite that large, growing consensus and the scientific studies on which it is based, many conservatives (including an number of North Carolina legislators and outgoing Gov. Pat McCrory) continue to insist that transgender people are simply confused and need to be dissuaded from transitioning.

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