The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a lawsuit challenging Minnesota’s ban of Medicaid coverage for transgender people for surgeries related to transitioning, the ACLU and the ACLU of Minnesota said on Thursday. According to the organization, Minnesota excludes transition-related surgery from medical coverage in Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare, a public insurance program for low-income Minnesota residents.
“Arbitrarily denying necessary heath care services to a segment of the population is harmful and discriminatory,” Teresa Nelson, the ACLU-Minnesota legal director, said in a statement. “Transgender people deserve access to transition-related surgery that is a medical necessity and recognized as such by every major medical organization.”
The ACLU is arguing that the ban has no medical basis and is discriminatory. The suit is brought on behalf of Minnesota resident Evan Thomas, has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, a condition where people feel strongly that their true identity is not the gender they physically appear to be, according to WebMD.
Thomas is on the Medical Assistance program and has begun hormone therapy, but is not covered for medical transition-related surgery because of the Minnesota ban. "Being denied surgical treatment is harmful to my health and well-being every day I'm forced to live in this body,” Thomas said in a statement.
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The surgeries were covered in Minnesota until 2005, when legislators passed a law that block it. More recently, some lawmakers in the state have tried to put an end to the ban.
In May, lawmakers in the Minnesota Senate introduced a bill that would put an end to the ban on transition-related healthcare, but the bill hasn’t made its way into law yet, reported the Column, a Minnesota website that covers a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. Transitioning-related medications would also be allowed under state funding and insurance plans if the bill were to be passed.