Trans Medical Needs to be Covered by MassHealth

On Friday, June 20, as reported by the Boston Globe, the MA State Division of Insurance issued  a bulletin stating that “denying medically necessary treatment based on an individual’s gender identity or gender dysphoria is prohibited sex discrimination under Massachusetts law.”  This follows a similar declaration by the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

This means that any person seeking gender-related, medically necessary care cannot legally be denied such care under MassHealth.   Download the full text of the official bulletin.

While this does not yet mean that individuals will get similar coverage under other insurance plans, it does move us all a step closer to the day when all insurance plans can be expected to provide such coverage.

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Governor Announces Changes in Health Insurance Access for Transgender Community

[MassEquality Press Release]
BOSTON ─ June 20 ─ Today, Governor Patrick announced several new changes providing non-discrimination protections for those seeking gender therapy services.

MassHealth, the state-subsidized health insurance provider, will soon cover gender affirmation surgery and other treatment for gender dysphoria.  Additionally, the MA Department of Insurance (DOI) issued regulatory guidance advising health insurers that they may not discriminate on the basis of gender identity in denial of services. The administration also shared that they would be encouraging the Group Insurance Commission to take similar steps in ensuring equal access to gender therapy services.

“This is a monumental step forward for the LGBT community in the Commonwealth. We applaud Governor Patrick’s leadership in ensuring that transgender people receive the medically-necessary services they need to lead healthy, productive lives.  We look forward to working with the administration on the implementation of these changes,” said MassEquality Executive Director Kara Coredini.

“Governor Patrick has once again illustrated his forward-looking and compassionate leadership in implementing these policies. As transgender rights become more visible across this country, Massachusetts will continue its tradition of being the beacon of light that so many other states can look to for guidance on equality,” said Mason Dunn, executive director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition.

Following on the heels of the Boston City Council’s recent unanimous decision on June 11 to not contract with any health insurer that does not provide gender therapy services, the Commonwealth’s decision will have an even broader impact, allowing transgender people across the state to access mental health care, hormone therapy, and other transition-related care.

Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, executive director of Health Care For All, states, “This is an immensely important step forward in ensuring that health coverage meets an individual’s full range of health care needs. We commend the Administration for again putting Massachusetts in the vanguard among states as a leader in health equity for everyone, and providing a model other states can use to improve access to care for all residents.”

Massachusetts will be the sixth state to enact non-discrimination policies regarding gender transition-related care. Washington, Oregon, Connecticut, Vermont and California have amended their state policies regarding health insurance provision for gender therapy services.

“As a national organization that advocates for LGBT health equity across the country, we are proud our home state of Massachusetts is leading the way in ensuring everyone has access to the health care services they need. This victory would not have been possible without strong advocacy at the state level and the committed partners working to secure these new benefits for transgender people,” said Susan Sherry, deputy director of Community Catalyst.

Contact: Michael Givens
Communications Manager, MassEquality
857-244-0218 (m)
617-878-2316 (o)
mike@massequality.org
Twitter: @massequality
Facebook: facebook.com/MassEquality

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#WeAreMTPC

“MTPC isn’t about one person, or even one type of person … it’s about the trans community, and about people who support the basic notion that no one should face discrimination or mistreatment on the basis of their gender identity or expression.” – Maxwell Ng, MTPC Steering Committee Vice-Chair

With that in mind, Maxwell and the MTPC team debuted new MTPC buttons and a social media campaign this weekend at Boston Pride: #WeAreMTPC. We took dozens of photos with MTPC community members, allies, families, friends, and even pets, all featuring the phrase “We Are MTPC.” You can view all the photos on our Facebook and Instagram pages.

#WeAreMTPC

#WeAreMTPC Buttons

Do you want to participate? You can contact MTPC about buying a “We Are MTPC” button pack of 2 buttons for $3. Each pack comes with a button that says “We Are Trans: We Are MTPC” and one other button (either “We Are Allies” or “We Are Parents”). Better yet, get both packs!

This weekend, we’ll be at North Shore Pride taking more #WeAreMTPC photos. Can’t make it? You can take your own photo and send it to us! Click here to print out a #WeAreMTPC sign, fill it in, and post it on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and/or Tumblr! Don’t forget to tag your photo with #WeAreMTPC!  Don’t live on the North Shore?  We’ll be coming to your community this summer. Check back with us about events in Springfield, Lowell, Worcestor, Brockton, and Amherst.

We are all a part of MTPC – as trans people, allies, parents, and beyond! Join the movement! Tell everyone #WeAreMTPC!

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Lawyers for Trans Rights 2014

by Landen, MTPC intern

MTPC celebrated its fifth annual Lawyers for Transgender Rights (LTR) event at NAGA at Moksa Restaurant in Cambridge on April 3. Surrounded by vibrant lights and lively music provided by the ensemble Urban Myth, enthusiastic students and members of the law community gathered to network, partake in cocktails, and bid on silent auction items. Although the event was fun, it served a greater purpose: to support MTPC’s important work on behalf of the trans community.

Executive Director Mason Dunn welcomed the crowd to his first Lawyers for Transgender Rights event with an impassioned speech on the dire need for equal rights and protection under the proposed Equal Access Bill. He reminded the crowd that nearly 60% of transgender people have reported significant discrimination and harassment in public accommodations. And although popular media is hyperfocused on the “bathroom issue,” the grim reality for trans people is that the severe lack of protection against harassment is prevalent in many other public spaces such as hotels, restaurants, public parks, buses, malls, theaters, and hospitals.

The LTR event also celebrated two champions of the trans community. The 2014 Carl Sciortino Transgender Ally Award recipient was Attorney General hopeful Maura Healey, a trailblazer for women’s rights, civil rights, and human rights with a history of legal advocacy and activism for the LGBTQ community. Healey delivered a keynote speech highlighting her commitment to secure justice for the trans community of Massachusetts. She enthusiastically ensured the crowd that she would fight by the trans community’s side for the legal protections they deserve, and she shared her vision of a future in which there would no longer be a need for events like Lawyers for Transgender Rights because equality of all people would be the status quo.

MTPC was also proud to honor Catherine E. Reuben, a founding partner of Hirsch, Roberts & Weinsten, with the 2014 Commitment to Service Award. Reuben is highly revered by her colleagues and the law community for her devotion to the ethical practice of law. She has been named a Massachusetts Super Lawyer (top 5% of lawyers) in Employment & Labor Law by Boston Magazine for the past 8 years, is one of the Top 50 Women Massachusetts Super Lawyers, and was recently inducted as a Fellow into the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, which is a most prestigious honor. Check our blog later next week to learn more about her!

MTPC thanks Maura and Catherine for their contribution to the transgender rights movement and extends our gratitude to the gracious and welcoming host committee and to all those who came out to support the organization. Thanks for another great year.

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MTPC’s Nancy Nangeroni Makes the Trans 100 List

Nancy Nangeroni named to Trans 100

We are proud to announce that Nancy Nangeroni, MTPC’s own steering committee chair, was named one of this year’s Trans 100. The Trans 100 is an annual listing of 100 trans individuals who are currently active in the work of making the lives of trans people better.

“I’m humbled to be included in such great company,” Nancy says. “Congratulations to all my coconspirators for making this movement and this community so awesome! For every one of us honored tonight, there are many more out there doing great work to advance the integrity and self-respect of persons of diverse gender expression and identity, and they all deserve recognition. I salute each and every gender activist all around the world for growing this movement so beautifully.”

As many may know, Nancy has long been an activist in the trans community. She is the cofounder of GenderTalk and GenderVision, former executive director of the International Foundation for Gender Education, and was instrumental in the founding of the Boston Transgender Day of Remembrance. Additionally, as chair of MTPC, Nancy is active in all of our efforts, including the Equal Access Bill. This honor is well earned!

In addition to Nancy, MTPC’s good friend Logan Ferraro with BAGLY was also named to the impressive list of trans leaders. You can watch the event at http://gigity.tv/event/26151/.

Congratulations to all those named to the Trans 100!

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“Shelter for all Genders” Report Released

Shelter imageThe Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC), is pleased to announce the release of “Shelter for All Genders: Best Practices for Homeless Shelters, Services and Programs in Massachusetts in Serving Transgender Adults and Gender Non-Conforming Guests.” This guide provides recommendations to agencies working with transgender and gender nonconforming persons in emergency and transitional shelters or services throughout the Commonwealth.

“Transgender and gender non-conforming people experience overwhelming levels of harassment and discrimination in shelters,” said Mason Dunn, MTPC’s executive director. “This guide aims to give shelters and programs the tools they need to become inclusive spaces for transgender individuals.”

In 2011 the Massachusetts legislature passed “An Act Relative to Gender Identity,” which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity in employment, education, credit/lending and housing. The recommendations contained in this new guide offer shelters suggestions for how to conform to the 2011 law, with respect to housing.

“Studies show that nearly 20% of transgender people experience homelessness at some point in their lives due to transgender-related discrimination,” said Nancy Nangeroni, chair of the MTPC Steering Committee. “Shelters and services should take steps to ensure they conform to the housing nondiscrimination laws, and support the integrity of all people.”

Along with this guide, MTPC is launching a story share initiative, to collect information about current shelter conditions experienced by transgender people in Massachusetts.

Click here to read the report and learn more about the story share initiative.

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