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Human Services sued over sex-reassignment care: Transgender advocacy group moves to force coverage of certain procedures

ST. PAUL -- A gay rights advocacy group is suing the state of Minnesota for not allowing sex-reassignment surgery to be covered by its publicly funded health assistance programs.

ST. PAUL - A gay rights advocacy group is suing the state of Minnesota for not allowing sex-reassignment surgery to be covered by its publicly funded health assistance programs.

OutFront Minnesota sued Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper in Ramsey County District Court on Thursday, arguing that state statute “arbitrarily and illegally deprives transgender people suffering from gender dysphoria of medically necessary care that is provided to every other Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare recipient.”
Gender dysphoria refers to those who experience psychological or emotional distress, or dysphoria, about the gender they were born with. It is included in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and was formerly known as “gender identity disorder.”
Minnesota statutes state, in short, that “sex-reassignment surgery is not covered” by medical assistance.
The Department of Human Services manages the state’s publicly funded medical assistance programs, Medical Assistance - which is the state’s Medicaid program - and MinnesotaCare.
Officials with the Department of Human Services indicated Thursday they are aware of the lawsuit.
“We have received the lawsuit, which challenges current state law. We are now reviewing the complaint,” read a statement from the department. They didn’t comment further.
OutFront Minnesota is a Minneapolis-based nonprofit group that advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Minnesotans.
OutFront says that untreated gender dysphoria can lead to severe depression and suicide and that common medical procedures to address it include hysterectomies, mastectomies, orchiectomies, vaginoplasty and phalloplasty.
Joining OutFront in its lawsuit is a transgender man and individual plaintiff, Evan Tysilio Thomas, 63, of St. Paul.
According to the lawsuit:
Thomas attempted to receive a subcutaneous mastectomy through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota but was denied coverage for the procedure in April.
“The existence of breasts is incongruent with (Thomas’) male gender identity and continues to cause him extreme distress, as well as health complications as a result of binding,” the suit states, referring to the process in which chest-compression clothing is used to bind or obscure breasts.
The suit alleges discrimination based on sex, medical diagnosis and transgender status.
It asks the state to declare that its law violates the state constitution’s guarantee of equal protection and privacy and order that the state no longer be allowed to deny transgender patients “medically necessary treatment, including transition-related surgery.”

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