The City of Rochester will add transgender health care benefits for employees and their families starting on January 1, 2015.
The new coverage means that services related to gender reassignment procedures such as medical and psychological counseling, hormone therapy, and reconstructive surgeries will be covered by insurance. To receive the benefits, employees will have to purchase an enhanced coverage plan.
City Council member Matt Haag says that getting transgender inclusive coverage into the health insurance package was more of a process than a controversial issue.
"It started under Mayor Richards and was supported by Mayor Warren," he says.
The coverage is important because every trans person's experience is unique, says Scott Fearing, director of the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley.
"For some, it may be that surgery is important, and for others it may be mental health counseling," he says.
The City of San Francisco has offered the benefits since 2001, Fearing says, and studies show that about 3 percent of the city's employees use them. And the cost is lower than it is to cover employees with diseases such as diabetes, he says.
The City of Rochester's interest in providing the coverage came about through work with the Human Rights Campaign, Haag says. Fearing says that understanding of trans people and their needs, such as health care, has improved.