We, the UNC Charlotte LGBTQ+ Staff and Faculty Caucus, are writing to voice our deep concern, frustration, and disapproval of the decision by the North Carolina Board of Trustees to terminate coverage in the 2018 calendar year for transgender health care needs for employees under the State Health Plan. This decision has resulted in the loss of financial support for medical and psychological services to transgender employees and/or their family members across the University of North Carolina system.
In December 2016, the State Health Plan was amended to comply with the Affordable Care Act by including language that ensured transgender health care coverage for employees and their families. Such coverage provided financial support for gender-affirming mental health care and medical care. This previous decision acted in accordance with a number of nationally recognized organizations such as the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the Endocrine Society, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the World Professional Association of Transgender Health (among others), each of whom have attested to the need for public and private health insurance policies to cover gender-affirming health care for transgender communities. Moreover, empirical data gathered by these organizations document the positive impact that gender-affirming health care has for transgender people.
The withdrawal of coverage for transgender health care in the 2018 calendar year will thus likely have a negative impact on the lives of employees and family members who already experience an array of obstacles with respect to receiving adequate care. For example, according to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey Report, 41% of transgender respondents attempted suicide in their lifetimes, compared to the 1.6% rate of the general population. In addition, 48% of transgender respondents stated that they postponed medical care due to the inability to afford it, and 19% experienced refusal of care by health care providers due to their trans-identity status. The withdrawal of gender-affirming coverage in the State Health Plan thus becomes yet another hurdle for transgender communities that limit their access to the support needed for their mental health and well-being.
To respond to this gap in coverage, we recommend that UNC employees seeking gender affirming mental health care in Charlotte, contact Trey Green, a licensed therapist specializing in gender-affirming care at firstname.lastname@example.org or (704) 350-5452. Also, employees interested in seeking legal support, please contact Noah E. Lewis at Transcend Legal email@example.com or (347) 612-4312.
Lastly, given that UNC Charlotte describes itself as being “committed to addressing the cultural, economic, educational, environmental, health, and social needs of the greater Charlotte region,” we ask that all university administrators, faculty, staff, and students insist that the Board of Trustees overturn their decision regarding the termination of health care coverage for transgender people, and affirm, instead, the necessity of insurance coverage for transgender communities in the State Health Plan. If UNC Charlotte and the UNC system wish to become leaders in their “Diversity and Inclusion” efforts, ensuring that all employees and their families have access to adequate health care coverage is an important step in that direction.