Win for trans-inclusive health care!

Portland is now the third municipality in the country to provide coverage for trans-inclusive health treatment!  At the Portland City Council meeting on Wednesday, June 8, the chamber was packed with supporters and testifiers for trans-inclusive health care.  People born as trans-gendered face medical issues that require hormone treatment and surgery that previously city health insurance did not cover.  The move to cover trans-inclusive health treatment puts aside $32,000, a .001% increase in cost.  If this increase seems unjustified to you, perhaps a few stories could change your mind.

A doctor who testified compared the conditions trans-gendered people need to treat are comparable to a person born with a misplaced heart valve.  Insurance companies would cover heart valve treatment, so why not trans-health care?  Another testifier compared discriminating against health care for trans-gendered people is like discriminating against short people-it’s something you’re born with.

One trans-gender man explained that part of his health care requires a cohesive gender presentation.  He is paying for his hormone treatments out of pocket, and cannot afford the full transition surgery.  So he binds his chest, to prevent confusion over his gender presentation, which could lead to emotional and physical harm.  However chest binding leads to chest pain and shortness of breath, which leads to expensive emergency room visits.  Trans-inclusive health care coverage would contribute to this man’s emotional and physical well being and ultimately ease the strain on emergency room capacities.

A woman who testified made the connection between trans-inclusive health coverage and the 33% suicide rate of transgender people.  She affirmed the humanizing effect of trans-health care, and eloquently captured the spirit of the pro trans-health coverage testimonies- it is about respect and human dignity, and no one has the authority to put a price tag on that.

So what does this have to do with API’s?  I saw very few Asians or Pacific Islanders in the chamber, none of the testifiers appeared to be API, and none of the commissioners appeared to be API.  Why the lack of presence or participation?  Aren’t there API’s who are also trans-gendered?  I am not trying to knock the trans-gendered movement for being exclusive, nor chide API’s for being inactive.  I’d just like to get some discussion started-what do you think about the connection between API’s and the trans-gender justice movement?

A quick and tight breakdown of trans-inclusive health coverage and refutations of arguments against it-

For more on transgender justice and other campaigns, visit Basic Rights Oregon’s website at

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