Judge Rules Transgender Surgeries Must Be Covered by Medicaid

A federal judge ruled this week that the state of West Virginia must allow transgender patients covered by Medicaid to receive gender transforming surgeries, reasoning that individuals with a gender dysphoria diagnosis must be treated the same as those suffering from other medical conditions.

U.S. District Judge Robert Chambers for the Southern District of West Virginia said it was discriminatory for the state to ban such procedures from Medicaid recipients while allowing others who do not have a gender dysphoria diagnosis to get the same surgeries, such as a mastectomy or vaginoplasty.

Under the state’s policy, a woman with a cancer-related diagnosis could have a mastectomy, but a transgender man with gender dysphoria desiring to have breasts removed could not do so under Medicaid coverage.

The ruling pointed to expert testimony from Dr. Loren Schechter, a Chicago-based plastic surgeon who said a vaginoplasty, or construction of a vagina, could be performed for a transgender patient or for a non-transgender woman suffering from congenital absence of the vagina.

“It is undisputed that the criteria determining whether or not such treatment is covered under the Medicaid Program hinges on a diagnosis — but when treatment is precluded for a diagnosis based on one’s gender identity, such exclusion invidiously discriminates on the basis of sex and transgender status,” Judge Chambers, a Clinton appointee, wrote in Tuesday’s order. (Read more from “Judge Rules Transgender Surgeries Must Be Covered by Medicaid” HERE)

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