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Oregon settles discrimination case with transgender man

The state of Oregon will provide a man $36,000 after he sued the state and its Public Employees' Benefits Board when they denied him healthcare coverage. A doctor recommended a hysterectomy for the man, who was then undergoing operations aimed at changing his sex from female to male. Because the state does cover hysterectomies for women, the plaintiff argued that officials discriminated against him based on his gender. The state avoided what would have likely been a costly and lengthy civil dispute by settling the claim with the plaintiff.

In 2001, the man, then a woman, was diagnosed with gender identity disorder. Sufferers of this condition generally identify with the opposite gender of their birth for prolonged periods of time. The plaintiff was prescribed testosterone to help him take on more masculine traits, but was forced to take particularly large doses in order to cancel out the estrogen produced by his ovaries. As such, his doctor determined that removing the ovaries was a medically necessary procedure, as high doses of testosterone are associated with an increased risk of cancer and other ailments.

Because the man was a public employee, he asked the state to cover the cost of his hysterectomy. The state has long covered such procedures for women when they are recommended by a physician. However, the coverage was denied. The lawsuit he filed in response accused Oregon of denying him coverage due to his status as transgender.

The plaintiff's attorney argued that by refusing to offer coverage that his female co-workers would have had access to, the state was essentially compensating the man less due to his gender. The attorney noted that a 2007 state law makes it illegal for private insurance firms to discriminate against clients based on their sexuality or gender, arguing that the PEBB should be compelled to abide by the same rules.

To settle the case, the state will pay $36,000 to the plaintiff to cover his expenses.

Source: The Columbian, "Oregon man who needed hysterectomy settles lawsuit," Jan. 24, 2013

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