The Cutting Edge June 20, 2014
By Barbara F. Anderson, Ph.D., LCSW
Good news on the Medicare front. The National Center for Transgender Equality has issued a Fact Sheet on Medicare Coverage of Transition-Related Care. Medicare provides health insurance for older adults and people with disabilities. For years certain medical services for transpeople were excluded. In May 2014, an independent federal appeals board ruled this to be unreasonable. The backstory: In 1989, Medicare adopted a position excluding SRS. In May of this year, The US Department of Health & Human Services, in response to the appeal of a beneficiary, invalidated this categorical exclusion. Now decisions about coverage for transition-related care will be made on a case-by-case basis, just like all services provided by Medicare. This ruling is final and not subject to appeal. For more information :<www.TransEquality.org.>
More good news!!! The Respect After Death Act (AB1577) passed the California Assembly (61-3) and will now move to the Senate. It will ensure that transpeople have their authentic gender identity reflected on their death certificates providing appropriate documentation such as written instructions from the deceased, an updated birth certificate or driver’s license, or evidence of transition-specific medical treatment.
The NY Times (May 30, 2014) announced the death of Storme DeLaverie, 93 year-old early leader of the Gay Rights Movement. “Storme was a singer, cross-dresser and bouncer who may or may not have thrown the first punch at the 1969 Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village…. She said in interviews that she had begun performing as a singer by her late teens, first as a woman and later dressed as a man…. She was the M.C. of the Jewel Box Review … in which she dressed as a man; the rest of the cast members, all men, dressed as women.” RIP.
News from Sweden and New York. Transpeople no longer need to provide a psychiatric evaluation and diagnosis when changing their legal gender in Sweden. The sole requirement is that applicants are living in their experienced gender role and plan to continue to do so. (Personal correspondence, June 2014)
New York State changed its policy requiring transgender people born in NYS to provide proof of SRS in order to alter their birth certificates. Now a medical provider’s affidavit of “appropriate clinical treatment” will suffice. Oddly, this change does not apply to NYC which has its own system for issuing birth certificates. (NY Times June 10, 2014)
In recognition of Pride Month, Time Magazine elected to feature Laverne Cox on its June cover. She is a transgender woman who plays the trans character, Sophia, on the Netflix show, “Orange is the New Black.” Her identical twin brother plays her character in pre-transition flashbacks. When asked in an interview by the NY Times, if Laverne looks forward to the time when there is a transgender crime-scene investigator on a CSI spinoff, she responded, “this is my dream! I actually believe it is possible.”
A lengthy opinion piece in the NY Times (May 25, 2014), titled “Who Are Women’s Colleges For?” explores the concern that some women’s colleges’ administrators have that admitting students who aren’t “legally female” will cause them to lose Title X funding. This ruling prohibits all discrimination “on the basis of sex” in any educational institution receiving federal funding. Exempted are private schools that serve a single-sex student body. Therefore, private women’s colleges can accept or reject anyone based on gender. Such schools do not define what constitutes a woman but they do require that documentation submitted with the applicant’s application for admission “reflect her status as a woman.” The writer, Kiera Feldman, opines that “it is worse than short-sighted to deny admission to any women who want to attend. Founded in the spirit of advancing the rights of women, these schools should lead the way for society, and accept transgender women.” Perhaps the issue will be moot in view of the fact that the number of such schools is down from 200 in 1960 to 46 today.