City Council Unanimously Supports ‘Gender Identity Non-Discrimination Ordinance’

Just in time for Pride Week, city employees who identify as transgender could soon have medical coverage for transition-related operations.

City Hall Photo uploaded by cliff1066™ on flickr

City Hall Photo uploaded by cliff1066™ on flickr

As Boston celebrates Pride Week, city officials showed, once again, that they stand behind the LGBT community.

During a meeting on Wednesday, the City Council unanimously approved the “gender identity non-discrimination ordinance,” which for the first time will allow city employees who identify as transgender to get full coverage for the costs of therapy and gender reassignment surgery under the city’s healthcare plan.

The legislation, filed jointly by City Councillors Michelle Wu and Ayanna Pressley in mid April, will head toward Mayor Marty Walsh’s desk for a signature, before it becomes the standard for healthcare coverage for Boston employees. In previous interviews and statements before a City Council committee, members of Walsh’s administration said the mayor supports the ordinance. The ordinance advanced after extensive work between Pressley and members of the Elevate Boston Coalition. Activists have called the measure a “pivotal step” in the right direction for people in the transgender community.

According to Wu, once signed off by the mayor, Boston will become the first city in the state to require non-discrimination coverage based on gender identity. “I am thrilled that the City of Boston is setting the standard as being an inclusive workplace to attract the most talented and committed employees,” said Wu in a statement.  “Inclusive health care coverage is the right thing to do for our employees and their families, and the best economic policy. I am proud that my colleagues on the Council and our Mayor support this important ordinance so strongly.”

Wu said plans are already in motion for the city to put out an RFP for insurance coverage. According to the stipulations in the ordinance, the city won’t contract with any health insurance agency that refuses to insure a person based on their gender identity. The gender identity non-discrimination ordinance will also ensure coverage for municipal employees’ dependents, expenses for transition-related operations, 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.

Kara Coredini, executive director of MassEquality, applauded the ordinance and the council’s willingness to support it as a whole. “Their action today is an important next step in Boston’s continuing leadership on transgender equality, and we hope that the state will soon follow Boston’s lead as it has so many times on issues of LGBTQ equality,” she said.