November 18, 2012

San Francisco Will Cover Gender Reassignment Surgery For Uninsured Transgender Residents

San Francisco Municipal Railway Street Car
I applaud Supervisor Wiener for taking on this issue and being decisive.
 
San Francisco is both a city and a county, and it’s the only combined city and county in the state of California. By combining the functions of a city and county government, we save the taxpayers a significant amount of money.

Our city has a tremendously diverse population, and the city and county of San Francisco’s political institutions reflect that. We have an Asian mayor, and our Board of Supervisors represent diverse constituencies. The 11 member Board includes 4 Asians, 3 Hispanics, 3 LGBT (1 bisexual woman, 2 gay men), 1 African American, and 4 women. There are only 2 straight white men on the Board.

Many decisions made by our diverse Board of Supervisors make national news, particularly legislation that reinforces a nanny-state mentality. Our legislators have been able to pass a ban on happy meal toys, a ban on plastic grocery bags, a ban on the yellow pages, and a ten cent surcharge for grocery bags.   

Despite the approval of several nanny-state type ordinances - the current members of the Board of Supervisors are attuned to what’s happening in the city, and they are smart. They don’t shy away from making difficult decisions, and for the most part they put the best interests of the city and county of San Francisco before their own personal and political needs.

Our Board of Supervisors passed a resolution that will probably cause laughter in some quarters, and criticism and incredulity in others. The unfair and imbalanced Fox News and their brightest light and brain trust Bill O’Reilly will be all over this story, so that they can reinforce their bigoted one note image as schoolyard bullies lacking empathy, intelligence, and compassion.

I wish I could run interference on this one, and shield some of my friends, neighbors, and fellow city residents, from the taunts and ribbing. I wish I knew of a way to silence the critics that will come out of the woodwork, and say “only in San Francisco.”

In 2001 our city was unfairly criticized and made fun of because the city changed their policy, and any transgender employee could have their gender reassignment surgery covered by the city’s health insurance policy.

In 2007, San Francisco was the first city in the nation to provide healthcare for all of it’s uninsured residents through a program called Healthy San Francisco. Gender reassignment surgery was not covered under Healthy San Francisco.

Supervisor Scott Wiener sponsored a resolution asking the health department to consider removing any restrictions in our city code, to allow gender reassignment surgeries to be covered by the Healthy San Francisco program. The resolution passed unanimously, and the Health Commission concurred, so uninsured transgendered residents enrolled in healthy San Francisco will now be able to have their gender reassignment surgeries covered.

Supervisor Wiener happens to be my Supervisor, and I think he’s pretty damn good at his job. He’s super smart, incredibly sensitive, a good listener, and he’s very thoughtful. This is what the San Francisco Chronicle had to say about Supervisor Wiener and the policy change.
“Healthy San Francisco was discriminating against transgender people by denying them medically necessary health care,” Wiener said.

The discrimination was particularly blatant in that the department provides and covers hysterectomies for women with cancer, but not for women who choose to transition to men. Likewise, it provides and covers the removal of testicles for men with cancer, but not for men transitioning to women.

We’ll pause here for two points. One: the resolution at the board passed unanimously, demonstrating what a non-issue this is in San Francisco. Two: we’ve got to give credit to Wiener, also the proponent of a ban on public nudity, for not shying away from legislation that’ll get him teased because of his name.
The health department didn’t object to the supervisors’ move, and now the Health Commission has made it official by also passing a resolution that the surgeries be covered.

“Providing these services is quite nominal compared to the benefits that would improve this community’s health outcomes, which is pretty much priceless,” said Health Commissioner Cecilia Chung, herself a transgender woman.

She said people who feel like their inner selves don’t match their bodies’ gender are more likely to suffer serious diseases including heart disease, HIV and hepatitis. Helping them transition through surgery, if that’s what they choose, can improve their long term health outcomes and save the city money overall, she said.
The health department is now creating a new program that will cover all parts of treating transgender patients including surgeries for those who opt for them.
I applaud Supervisor Wiener for taking on this issue and being decisive. I’m really glad that the Health Commission responded affirmatively, and embraced this bold initiative.

To any political pundit, talking head, or would-be comedian hoping to capitalize on this healthcare issue to deride our great city, go right ahead. We’re ready for it, and we’re ready for you. 

Quite frankly if you don’t live here, and you don’t pay taxes here, it’s none of your damn business.

straight talk in a queer world.     jiveinthe415.com        
© 2012 JIVEINTHE415.COM
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