General News

Trans employees win healthcare discrimination lawsuit in North Carolina

Rachel Badham September 6, 2021

After filing a lawsuit against the state in 2019, six employees in North Carolina have won their case, accusing the State Health Plan of discriminating against either them or their children. The healthcare plan covered over 750,000 state employees, teachers, lawmakers and hospital workers, but denies coverage of gender-affirming healthcare such as hormone treatments.

With the support of Lambda Legal, the plaintiffs argued that the state had violated the Affordable Care Act by denying the coverage of transition-related healthcare. On September 1, judge Roger Gregory ruled in favour of the plaintiffs, saying: “We have previously noted what should by now be uncontroversial: ‘Just like being cisgender, being transgender is natural and is not a choice.’”

In a 36-page ruling, Gregory explained that while “discrimination is not always obvious”, the state’s current healthcare policies “facially discriminate on the basis of gender”, thus agreeing with the plaintiffs. The Transgender Legal Defence and Education Fund celebrated the court’s decision, with executive director Andy Marra saying: “We commend the court for denying North Carolina’s attempt to dismiss this important lawsuit.”

She added: “North Carolina has failed its trans employees and their families who, like all people, have pressing health needs at certain times in their lives…All mainstream medical associations, including the American Medical Association, recognise that transition-related care is safe, effective, and medically necessary.”