The settlement with Georgia’s State Health Benefit Plan will extend coverage to more than 660,000 eligible residents.
Georgia has agreed to pay for gender-affirming care for eligible state employees, public school teachers, and former workers covered under its state-sponsored health insurance plan.
According to NBC News, Georgia’s decision to pay for transition therapy will settle a lawsuit filed at the end of 2022. Earlier this week, the plaintiffs moved an Atalanta-based federal court to dismiss their complaint, announcing that they had reached an agreement with the State Health Benefit Plan.
The complaint, notes NBC NWEs, had originally argued that the Benefit Plan engaged in illegal discrimination by refusing to cover the costs of gender-affirming care.
“There’s no justification, morally, medically, legally or in any other way for treating transgender healthcare as different and denying people access to it,” said David Brown, a Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund attorney for the plaintiffs.
Benjamin Johnson, one of the plaintiffs named in the complaint, said that he hopes the settlement will help other transgender Georgia employees receive the care that they need.
“When I was able to get the medical treatment I needed, I finally felt whole. I feel like this is the person I was meant to be, and my mental health has improved drastically,” Johnson said. “I hope that this settlement means that other trans Georgia state employees can feel the joy and relief I have felt having gotten the medical treatments that I needed.”
The State Health Benefit Plan, writes the Georgia Recorder, covers an estimated 660,000 people.
As part of the agreement, Georgia will also pay $365,000 to three employees, a child, and the Campaign for Southern Equality, a non-profit organization dedicating to advancing LGBT civil rights goals.
“In a year when transphobic extremists have pushed restriction after restriction for transgender people’s access to necessary health care, a development like this that will enable transgender Georgians to more easily access care is a huge victory,” said Holiday Simmons, Director of Healing & Resilience at the Campaign for Southern Equality.
Brown further emphasized that, while the case does not set any new precedent, it establishes the importance of providing transgender people with the care that they need and deserve.
“Our win today isn’t precedent because the court didn’t rule—we were able to negotiate getting the exclusion removed without much litigation—and the subject matter is a little different, since our case deals with employment,” Brown said. “But many of the same arguments do apply. At the heart of both cases is the importance of trans people having access to the health care that they need, and today’s settlement emphasizes that there’s no justification—legally, medically, morally, or in any other way—to discriminate against transgender people who are simply seeking the same healthcare that everyone deserves.”