by: Amber Randall
A cancer researcher from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health filed a complaint Tuesday against the state and his health insurance company because his sexual reassignment surgery wasn’t covered.
The ACLU of Wisconsin and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a complaint on behalf of Shannon Andrews, a transgender who transitioned from male to female in 2015, reports The Wisconsin State Journal. Andrews’ complaint asks for $21,000 to cover the reassignment surgery he received. The complaint names the Group Insurance Board, WPS Insurance and the University of Wisconsin at Madison’s medical school.
“Setting aside a separate class of people … as not being worthy of medical care feels and seems discriminatory to me. Everyone deserves equal medical treatment,” Andrews said, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
The ACLU said in a statement that Andrews’ equal protection under the 14th Amendment and his rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act were violated since the sexual reassignment surgery wasn’t covered.
A spokesperson for the university’s medical school, Lisa Brunette, told the Wisconsin State Journal that the insurance board, not the school, decides what gets covered for state employees.
Earlier this month, the Group Insurance Board approved a change to its policy that would allow sexual reassignment surgery to be covered under its policy starting in 2017. The ACLU said the change came too late for Andrews, who had his surgery last year.
“Many people can relate to paying into an insurance plan only to be told that the treatment they need is not covered. But when the reason you are denied coverage is because of who you are, it is even more painful,” Andrews said in statement.
Larry Dupuis, the legal director of ACLU of Wisconsin, and John A. Knight from the ACLU’s LGBTQ and HIV Project are representing Andrews.