Don't let your schooling interfere with your education.
~ Pete Seeger

Monday, August 18, 2008

Surgery and the DSM-IV

I went on the HRC website the other day, and found that 78 companies now offer comprehensive health care for transpeople. San Francisco does, too. By comprehensive, I mean that they offer at least some benefit for SRS/GCS. That's pretty remarkable in itself, but what I found especially remarkable is the impact that this benefit had on San Francisco.

In 2001, San Fran projected they'd have to deal with 35 operations a year, so they started charging their employees $1.70/month. Three years later, with over $4 million saved and only $156,000 spent, they lowered the surcharge to $1.16/month. That was still too much, so in 2006 they dropped the surcharge altogether.

"In other words, transgender people were not flocking to work for the city, and the cost of covering transgender employees' health needs was relatively inexpensive, compared to other health needs of San Francisco employees. Employees of the City and County of San Francisco and those employees' dependents may now access transgender specific treatments without the need for any plan members to pay any additional premiums, as they did the first few years the program was available."

So what's the big stink? Why don't more employers – especially major ones, like city, county, or state governments – offer those benefits?

I strongly suspect that coverage for birth defects, such as intersexed conditions, will be covered under these plans. Why not when gender dysphoria rears its ugly head?

Is it just because the DSM-IV still lists gender dysphoria as a mental illness called Gender Identity Disorder (GID) – even though the folks who write the DSM have never been able to cure anyone, and the only treatment they recommend is hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and surgery?

Truly ironic, that the mental health professionals recommend medical treatment for something they call a mental disorder.

But I've already written about that.


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Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.
~Helen Keller

Reading List for Information about Transpeople

  • Becoming a Visible Man, by Jamison Green
  • Conundrum, by Jan Morris
  • Gender Outlaw, by Kate Bornstein
  • My Husband Betty, by Helen Boyd
  • Right Side Out, by Annah Moore
  • She's Not There, by Jennifer Boylan
  • The Riddle of Gender, by Deborah Rudacille
  • Trans Liberation, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transgender Emergence, by Arlene Istar Lev
  • Transgender Warriors, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transition and Beyond, by Reid Vanderburgh
  • True Selves, by Mildred Brown
  • What Becomes You, by Aaron Link Raz and Hilda Raz
  • Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano
I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men's hands even at the height
of their arc of anger
because we have finally realized there is just one flesh to wound
and it is His - the Christ's, our
Beloved's.
~Hafiz