Transgender deputy denied coverage for gender dysphoria treatment

Transgender Houston County Sheriff's Sergeant Anna Lange and her attorney Noah Lewis.

A transgender Sheriff’s sergeant in Houston County, Georgia, has been denied insurance coverage for gender dysphoria treatment.

Sgt. Anna Lange’s request to include coverage of gender confirmation surgery in her employer’s healthcare plan was denied at a County Commission meeting on Tuesday (February 19).

County attorney Tom Hall said the County Commission will not consider adding the coverage of gender dysphoria treatment to its plan this year.

“I have advised the commission and staff not to discuss this matter due to potential litigation,” he added, quoted in local publication The Telegraph, without commenting further.

“They’re on the wrong side of history and we’re confident that we will prevail.”

— Noah Lewis

According to The Telegraph, Houston County would be able to include coverage for gender confirmation surgery as it operates a self-funded health insurance plan administered through Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which offers this option to its own employees.

Speaking to the commissioners on Tuesday, Lange explained both she and her surgeon’s office had checked with Anthem that the treatment would be covered—but the surgery was ultimately denied as Houston County excludes the treatment from its healthcare coverage.

Transgender deputy Sgt Anne Lange says refusal to cover gender dysphoria treatment makes her feel unwanted

She said that in 2017 she became the first person ever to come out as transgender in the Houston County Sheriff’s Office.

“The Sheriff’s Office has treated me with respect and values my 12 years of service,” said Anna Lange in  a statement issued through her attorney, Noah Lewis.

She added: “But the County singles out and excludes the doctor-recommended care that I need simply because I’m transgender. That sends a clear message that my service as a public safety officer is not wanted or valued in Houston County.”

For more than a decade, the American Medical Association has been supporting public and private health insurance coverage for treatment of gender dysphoria as recommended by the patient’s physician.

Noah Lewis of Transcend Legal with co-counsel Kevin Barry of Quinnipiac University School of Law Legal Clinic argued in federal court in Athens, GA, on behalf of Skyler Jay in his case against the University System of Georgia for excluding gender dysphoria treatment from healthcare coverage.

Noah Lewis (L) is also representing Queer Eye‘s Skylar Jay (C) in his discrimination lawsuit against the University of Georgia over the exclusion of trans-related healthcare (Transcend Legal/Facebook)

Lange’s attorney Lewis is the founder and executive director of New York-based organisation Transcend Legal, which focuses on eliminating barriers to insurance coverage for transgender-related health care.

Lewis, who is representing Queer Eye‘s first transgender hero Skylar in his discrimination lawsuit against the University of Georgia over the exclusion of trans-related healthcare in its Anthem-administered health plan for staff, believes the commissioners’ refusal to expand Houston County’s insurance policy to cover any transgender medical procedures may violate nondiscrimination laws.

“They’re on the wrong side of history and we’re confident that we will prevail and we will be moving forward with filing a charge of discrimination,” Lewis told local news outlet 13WMAZ.