- Associated Press - Thursday, November 17, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Transgender rights advocates are encouraged by a Ramsey County judge’s ruling that found Minnesota’s refusal to cover transitional surgeries to be unconstitutional.

State lawmakers enacted the ban in 2005, selling it as a cost-saving measure, Minnesota Public Radio reported (https://bit.ly/2gkIWWi ). It only applied to people receiving state Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare benefits.

Judge William Leary III ruled this week that the ban violated the right to privacy and interferes with medical decisions transgender people make regarding their bodies.

The law puts a label on transgender people, said Teresa Nelson, legal director for the ACLU of Minnesota.

“It says, from the state of Minnesota, ‘Transgender people, you are not worth as much as other people and so we are not going to give you the medically necessary care that we give to other people,’” Nelson said.

Sixty-four-year-old Evan Thomas, a St. Paul resident, was one of the plaintiffs in the case. Thomas sought surgery as an enrollee in Medical Assistance, the state Medicaid program, but was denied coverage for a bilateral mastectomy.

Thomas has taken hormone treatments to develop more masculine features, but said he has to bind his chest to hide his breasts.

“I’m constantly afraid as I’m out in public that people will realize, that they will notice, that I have an anatomy that does not correspond to the person I appear to be,” Thomas said.

The Minnesota Department of Human Services has agreed to pay for Thomas’ surgery, which is scheduled for Nov. 28, as part of the lawsuit’s resolution.

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Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, https://www.mprnews.org


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