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Salt Lake County Offers Additional Benefits For Transgender Employees

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Salt Lake County insurance plans now cover the specific healthcare needs of transgender employees and employee dependents.

It began with five employees who turned to human resources after they were denied coverage for procedures or treatments that had been recommended by their doctors.

Salt Lake County Councilman Arlyn Bradshaw brought a measure to the council Tuesday to amend the county’s contracts with insurance providers to include the full range of treatment for gender dysphoria, which is the diagnostic term used to describe someone whose gender at birth is contrary to the one they identify with. It passed 4 to 3, with two Republican members absent from the discussion.  Bradshaw says it will be a nominal cost to taxpayers.

“It does effect a very small subset of the county employees but in a very significant way,” Bradshaw says. “And I think it was important for the council to show all of our employees that we care about them and care about their struggles and that we’re going to have their backs as they navigate these types of issues.”

Treatment for gender dysphoria could include hormone therapy, surgery and psychotherapy or counseling to support employees’ gender transitions.

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams supports the change.

“I’m the mayor of almost 7,000 employees and I’ve met with some of these employees who have very real health needs,” McAdams says. “And as the employer, we want to make sure that their needs are met just like anyone else.”

According to a February 2016 survey from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, 12 percent of U.S. employers offer transgender-inclusive health benefits. Eleven percent of public employers offer those benefits.  

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