Portland – EqualityMaine, Maine Trans Net, the ACLU of Maine, and Consumers for Affordable Health Care joined together today to urge the Portland City Council to approve a transgender-inclusive health care policy for city employees. A resolution to end exclusions for transgender health care in the city policy will be considered at the Council meeting on Monday, June 20.

In May, the U.S Department of Health and Human Services issued a rule prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in all health programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance, including health insurance programs participating in Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces. The rule forbids health insurers from categorically excluding treatments related to gender transition. The Obama administration also eliminated transgender health care exclusions for federal employees in January.

However, cities like Portland that provide insurance to city employees under their own plans are not included in the rules. The resolution being considered on Monday is a proactive step that will bring the city of Portland in line with many other Maine coverage providers, and will ensure transgender city employees can get the health care they need.

More than 60 cities across the nation, including Boston, Cambridge, Worcester, Providence and Burlington, have already guaranteed equal health coverage for their transgender employees.

The following quotes can be attributed as noted:

Gia Drew, President, Maine Trans Net: “Transgender employees, just like everyone else, need access to medically necessary treatment. Every major medical association has affirmed that transition-related health care for transgender people is vital and improves health and well-being, and this represents an important step forward in expanding health coverage to transgender Mainers.”

Matt Moonen, Executive Director, EqualityMaine: “For years, Mainers have stood up for fair treatment of LGBT people when it comes to marriage, housing and employment, and Portland has always been at the forefront of those efforts. This is an opportunity to extend that fairness and equity to health care for transgender employees of Maine’s largest city, and we thank the mayor, city manager, and city council for making Portland a leader once again.”

Oamshri Amarasingham, Advocacy Director, ACLU of Maine: “It is discriminatory and illegal to deny people equal access to needed health care because of their sex, gender or gender identity. We applaud the Portland City Council for taking the lead on inclusive health care for city employees, and urge other Maine cities and towns to follow suit.”

Emily Brostek, Executive Director, Consumers for Affordable Health Care: “This is a huge step forward in ensuring that health coverage meets the full range of health care needs people have. We applaud the City of Portland for its leadership in health equity for all its workers, and for providing a model for other Maine cities, towns, and employers to follow in improving access to care for their employees.”