Historic campaign for trans benefits kicks off

photo of Gabriel Haaland by Luke Thomas, Fog City Journal

A group of LGBT labor activists is launching a nationwide campaign to push unions to bargain for transgender health benefits for their members.

Pride At Work, in collaboration with the Transgender Law Center, the National Center for Transgender Equality, and the SEIU Lavender Caucus, plans to ask labor groups, including local labor councils and state labor federations, to pledge to include trans benefits in future contract negotiations.

The effort is historic -- and badly needed: Gabriel Haaland, co-chair of Pride At Work's Transgender Caucus, estimated that fewer than 10 percent of all union contracts mandate health insurance benefits for transgender people.

The organizing effort will kick off in March with actions and educational programs in at least 10 cities.

Some unions already recognize the importance of the issue -- SEIU, for example, endorsed the idea of including trans benefits at a recent national convention. And transgender employees of the 2.1 million-member union are covered.

But "we're asking, how does that get implement at the local level, as a bargaining priority," Haaland said.

A growing number of private-sector employers, including Google, Office Depot and Kaiser, cover a broad spectrum of care, including gender-reassignment surgery.

San Francisco made national headlines in 2001 when the city agreed to cover the health costs of transgender employees, and the right-wing nuts of the world went crazy. Headlines announced that the city's taxpayers would soon be underwriting "sex-change operations."

As a result, however, local health-care providers that contract with the city began to train their staff on trans sensitivity and began to develop protocols for treating trans patients.

In reality, most trans benefits are fairly inexpensive -- hormone treatments, for example, are not terribly costly. And the very concept of organizing around trans issues and pushing benefits in union contracts can help bring a historically underserved and marginalized community into the political discussion.

"It's just as it was in the past with gay and lesbian issues," Haaland said. "A lot of people don't even realize that they know trans people. And when trans workers realize that this is happening, it gets them more involved in their unions."

Even in San Francisco, trans people face huge obstacles at work. A 2006 study by the Transgender Law Center and the Bay Guardian found that three out of four trans people in the city lack a full-time job -- and more than 90 percent earn less than the area's median income.

The organizing effort came out of a January, 2013 National Gay and Lesbian Task Force "Creating Change" conference in Atlanta, where Pride at Work members brought in transgender leaders from around the country for discussions on political issues and strategies. The issue of benefits was at the top of the list.

"Not just the issue but the process itself was historic," Haaland said. "We went out and asked community leaders what they wanted, and this is where we ended up."



There was an organic conservative grassroots movement that was seen as a target for cooption by both the Koch brothers libertarian juggernaut as well as the establishment Republican Party.

As the Republicans sought to coopt the Tea Party, the Democrats set about repressing Occupy Wall Street. And that says it all.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 13, 2013 @ 8:38 am

Of course, why didn't I think that the solution to the health care crisis was to compel everyone to purchase health insurance?

Posted by marcos on Feb. 13, 2013 @ 8:15 am

by passing a law requiring everyone to buy or rent a home. Or end unemployment by passing a law requiring everyone to have a job. Public policy is easy, isn't it?

Posted by Eddie on Feb. 13, 2013 @ 8:23 am
Posted by anon on Feb. 13, 2013 @ 8:36 am

not equal solutions. Watch for a renewed movement for single payer when the failings of Obamacare become clear within the next two years.

Posted by Eddie on Feb. 13, 2013 @ 8:53 am

The compromize ou got was the best you could get, and would not even be possible now with the GOP running the house.

Posted by anon on Feb. 13, 2013 @ 9:06 am

For those of you who don't understand how it is or why it is that a "sex change" is NOT cosmetic, please read this book: http://www.amazon.com/Tranny-Tales-Personal-Stories-Transition/dp/098313...

Posted by Guest on Feb. 11, 2013 @ 5:21 pm

It's exciting that so many people are interested in this campaign and have such strong feeligns on the topic.
I'm also happy to report that there is a growing list of corporations, 206 to be exact, that recognize the importance of providing non-discriminatory health care. We would love to have you come to our event in March and you can ask all these important questions in person instead of on line where it is difficult for some not to personalize or fall into questions that are not policy oriented.
I appreciate that it may be new conversation for some of you to ponder and that you have so many questions, so education is always the best answer!
Thanks again for your interest.


Corporate Equality Index: List of Businesses with Transgender-Inclusive Health Insurance Benefits


This page is part of a set of resources for employers to implement transgender-inclusive health insurance coverage. See "Benefits for Transgender Employees and Dependents" for the complete set of resources.

Since 2004, the HRC Foundation has asked employers whether they offer transgender health benefits without exclusion as part of its annual Corporate Equality Index survey. Businesses large and small have removed transgender exclusions from their health insurance contracts and modified clinical guidelines to provide health insurance coverage for mental health counseling, hormone therapy, medical visits, surgical procedures and other treatments related to gender transition or sex reassignment.

The Corporate Equality Index requires employers to provide documentation indicating that such coverage is indeed available. In total, 206 employers — including 11 of the top 20 Fortune 500 companies and 56 of the American Lawyer top 200 law firms — demonstrated that they provided insurance coverage for transgender-related treatments, including surgical procedures, for employees and their covered dependents. In the 2011 CEI, only 85 employers afforded this level of coverage.

Where the HRC Foundation has seen detailed documentation of coverage, it has generally been limited to specific procedures or treatments; such limitations could eventually be viewed as insufficient.
•Transgender-inclusive employer-based insurance options

Employers rated in the Corporate Equality Index 2012 that provide insurance coverage for transgender-related treatments, including surgical procedures, for employees and their covered dependents:
• 3M Co.
• A.T. Kearney Inc.
• AAA Northern California, Nevada & Utah Insurance Exchange
• Abercrombie & Fitch Co.
• Accenture Ltd.
• Aetna Inc.
• Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld LLP
• Alcatel-Lucent
• Alcoa Inc.
• Alston & Bird LLP
• American Express Co.
• Ameriprise Financial Inc.
• AMR Corp. (American Airlines)
• Aon Corp.
• Apple Inc.
• AT&T Inc.
• Automatic Data Processing Inc.
• Avaya Inc.
• Avon Products Inc.
• Bain & Co. Inc.
• Baker & McKenzie LLP
• Bank of America Corp.
• Bank of New York Mellon Corp., The (BNY Mellon)
• Barclays Capital
• Barnes & Noble Inc.
• Best Buy Co. Inc.
• Bingham McCutchen LLP
• BlackRock
• Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida Inc.
• Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota
• BMO Bankcorp Inc.
• Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.
• Boston Consulting Group
• Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.
• Broadridge Financial Solutions Inc.
• Brown Rudnick LLP
• Brown-Forman Corp.
• Bryan Cave LLP
• Caesars Entertainment Corp.
• Campbell Soup Co.
• Capital One Financial Corp.
• Cardinal Health Inc.
• CareFusion Corp.
• Cargill Inc.
• Carlton Fields PA
• Chapman and Cutler LLP
• Charles Schwab Corp., The
• Chevron Corp.
• Choate, Hall & Stewart LLP
• Choice Hotels International Inc.
• Chrysler LLC
• Chubb Corp.
• Cisco Systems Inc.
• Citigroup Inc.
• Clifford Chance US LLP
• Clorox Co.
• Coca-Cola Co., The
• Comerica Inc.
• Corning Inc.
• Covington & Burling LLP
• Credit Suisse USA Inc.
• Crowell & Moring LLP
• Cummins Inc.
• Davis Wright Tremaine LLP
• Debevoise & Plimpton LLP
• Delhaize America Inc.
• Dell Inc.
• Deloitte LLP
• Deutsche Bank
• Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP
• Diageo North America
• DLA Piper
• Dorsey & Whitney LLP
• Dow Chemical Co., The
• Dykema Gossett PLLC
• E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. (DuPont)
• Eastman Kodak Co.
• eBay Inc.
• Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge LLP
• Eli Lilly & Co.
• EMC Corp.
• Ernst & Young LLP
• Exelon Corp.
• Faegre & Benson LLP
• Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. (Freddie Mac)
• Fenwick & West LLP
• Ford Motor Co.
• Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP
• Gap Inc.
• Genentech Inc.
• General Mills Inc.
• General Motors Co.
• Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
• GlaxoSmithKline plc
• Goldman Sachs Group Inc., The
• Google Inc.
• Group Health Cooperative
• Group Health Permanente
• Herman Miller Inc.
• Hewlett-Packard Co.
• Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP
• Hogan Lovells US LLP
• Hyatt Hotels Corp.
• ING North America Insurance Corp.
• Intel Corp.
• International Business Machines Corp. (IBM)
• Intuit Inc.
• Jenner & Block LLP
• Johnson & Johnson
• JPMorgan Chase & Co.
• K&L Gates LLP
• Kellogg Co.
• Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group Inc.
• Kirkland & Ellis LLP
• Kraft Foods Inc.
• Levi Strauss & Co.
• Limited Brands Inc.
• Littler Mendelson PC
• Lockheed Martin Corp.
• Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc.
• McDermott Will & Emery LLP
• McKinsey & Co. Inc.
• Medtronic Inc.
• MetLife Inc.
• Microsoft Corp.
• MillerCoors LLC
• Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams
• Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP
• Morgan Stanley
• Morrison & Foerster LLP
• Nationwide
• Navigant Consulting Inc.
• Nike Inc.
• Nixon Peabody LLP
• Nordstrom Inc.
• Northern Trust Corp.
• Office Depot Inc.
• Oracle Corp.
• Orbitz Worldwide Inc.
• Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
• Owens Corning
• Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP
• Paul Hastings LLP
• Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
• Pearson Inc.
• PepsiCo Inc.
• Perkins Coie LLP
• Pfizer Inc.
• PG&E Corp.
• Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
• PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
• Prudential Financial Inc.
• Raytheon Co.
• Replacements Ltd.
• Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi LLP
• Rockwell Automation Inc.
• Ropes & Gray LLP
• Schiff Hardin LLP
• Sears Holdings Corp.
• Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold LLP
• Sempra Energy
• Seyfarth Shaw LLP
• Shearman & Sterling LLP
• Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP
• Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP
• Sidley Austin LLP
• Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett LLP
• Sodexo Inc.
• Southern California Edison Co.
• Sprint Nextel Corp.
• Squire, Sanders & Dempsey LLP
• Staples Inc.
• Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide
• State Farm Group
• Sun Life Financial Inc. (U.S.)
• Supervalu Inc.
• Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP
• Symantec Corp.
• TD Bank, N.A.
• Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association - College Retirement Equities Fund
• Tech Data Corp.
• Thompson Coburn LLP
• Thomson Reuters
• Tiffany & Co.
• Time Warner Inc.
• TJX Companies Inc., The
• Toyota Financial Services Corp.
• Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc.
• Troutman Sanders LLP
• U.S. Bancorp
• Unilever
• United Continental Holdings Inc.
• United Technologies Corp.
• UnitedHealth Group Inc.
• Volkswagen Group of America Inc.
• Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz LLP
• Walt Disney Co., The
• Wells Fargo & Co.
• Whirlpool Corp.
• White & Case LLP
• Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr LLP
• Winston & Strawn LLP
• Xerox Corp.
• Yahoo! Inc.

Posted by Gabriel Haaland on Feb. 11, 2013 @ 5:35 pm

Nice cut & paste, Gabs

At the end of the day, you are the most articulate person in the screaming inner circle.

...the going gets Gabbyish

Posted by Guest on Feb. 11, 2013 @ 9:24 pm

The transphobic comments here are exactly why protection and change is needed.

Posted by Roman on Feb. 11, 2013 @ 6:26 pm

Opposition to a policy has no bearing on the policy's merits.

This policy stands strongly on its merits.

Other key issues are not labor priorities, stand even stronger on the merits, yet remain unaddressed.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 11, 2013 @ 6:46 pm

Trolls be on notice.

Posted by marke on Feb. 11, 2013 @ 6:58 pm

...that my rates and taxes shouldn't go up for you to have elective medicating?

Posted by matlock on Feb. 11, 2013 @ 8:36 pm

Everyone gets a range of choices from their health care providers when facing all sorts of health challenges and gets to pick their path. That is not elective.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 11, 2013 @ 9:34 pm
Posted by anon on Feb. 12, 2013 @ 5:58 pm

So more exciting news for transgender people...Kaiser is about to begin to deliver culturally competent care to transgender members

Dear Community Providers and Organizations,
Kaiser Permanente and the East Bay Medical Center are deeply committed to providing equitable, compassionate and high-quality care to our transgender members and their families.
We are proud to share with you the following information about clinical services for our Kaiser Permanente transgender and transitioning members. Please refer Kaiser Permanente transgender members who are in need of a hormone competent primary care provider, psychological services and support groups, gynecological services and surgical consultations to our website:

Thank you,

Dr. Susanne Watson and Dr. Jennifer Slovis
KP Oakland MST (Multi-Speciality Transitions) Clinic


Posted by Gabriel Haaland on Feb. 11, 2013 @ 6:38 pm

I totally agree that people here have deep misunderstandings on the issue and need more education. So it is incumbant on us to dig deep inside ourselves and understand that this is emotionally challenging for some people to understand and that they lean towards making personal comments because the policies are new to them.
It's human nature to personalize and I take no offense at their comments. Honestly. It takes time to educate and it's my hope that we can have these conversations in person. It's harder to dehumanize people in person than online. I'm not sure why that is but it seems to be true.
With time and education, these conversations will get easier and people will rise to being their best selves and discuss the policies on the merits.
All the best,

Posted by Gabriel Haaland on Feb. 11, 2013 @ 6:55 pm

It's not a decision someone undertakes lightly and it's actually pretty difficult to achieve. I can look beyond my personal uncomfortability with the issue and see that it's something which should be covered. Cosmetic surgery coverage like nose jobs and softening of the facial features is not something which I think should be covered but those are really tangential issues.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Feb. 11, 2013 @ 8:21 pm

I worked with a transgender person for four or five years, I even went to her wedding. I met her dad and had some beers with him as a favor to keep him busy. We also would spent hours at work talking shit, often laughing at right wingers and progressives equally.

I also don't have an interest in footing the bill for your dreaming.

The progressive obsession with "educating" the world is so interesting, and condescending. The learned language of progressive speak is so weird.

Posted by matlock on Feb. 11, 2013 @ 8:48 pm

for someone's private insurance? If this is a legitimate medical need then why deny it? It doesn't sound like a flighty decision at all and to be covered it has to go through a lengthy medical review process.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Feb. 11, 2013 @ 9:06 pm

I suppose it is money better spent then the retirement pay of Heather Fong, the entire SF Dept of Environment, or the hundreds of useless commissions. At least there will be something to show for the money spent.

At this point what isn't Gabb's Halland and the rest of the progressives entitled to when it comes to the worst run city in America? All that highfalutin education in entitlement and new speak, we the tax payers owe them for being so righteous.

I could care less if a company wants to foot the bill for this through premiums.

Posted by matlock on Feb. 11, 2013 @ 9:34 pm

which will bankrupt us if the trajectory doesn't change. We have people like Gabs, who loves to lay claim to taxpayer money on behalf of his "members", to thank for that.

But the trans issue is separate and is really negligible as far as cost.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Feb. 11, 2013 @ 9:51 pm

My gawd, every day it's something new. If it's not Alvarez' five-year golden parachute, it's City workers surfing porn all day...

More more MORE.


off rant.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 11, 2013 @ 10:22 pm

Yes, Alvarez is parachuting into the "City Family" I-worked-for-the-city-for-five-years and now-I-and-spouse-get healthcare-for-life on the taxpayer's dime.

More cuts in library hours, Park & Rec, and other services will be needed in order to pay for the "city family" entitlements.

Our beloved "city family" is bankrupting us. Gabbs, ya listening here?

I support you on this issue though.

Posted by Troll the XIV on Feb. 12, 2013 @ 6:31 am

the city's workers and their suicidal pension and healthcare entitlements.

Bring it on.

Posted by anon on Feb. 12, 2013 @ 7:54 am

Unfortunately, nobody is getting off-loaded.

"City family" salaries/benefits now consume 52% of the city's $7 billion budget, according to Harvey Rose.

Posted by Troll the XIV on Feb. 12, 2013 @ 8:19 am

Per the City's own survey, I think the number was 66% of City employees are obese. So taxpayers are on the hook for their health care - just more billions drained.

Are they going to privatize all of our parks?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2013 @ 8:52 am

has been estimated at over 4 billion.

Since such a sum can never be found, those workers will not be getting the healthcare benefits they expect.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2013 @ 9:06 am

elective cosmetic surgery is given free to all TS's then we are all paying for that.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2013 @ 8:02 am

Yes, it is "incombant" to get people edacated.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 11, 2013 @ 9:27 pm

Thanks for your ongoing questions!
The Human Rights Campaign has some excellent background information that dispels the myths and stereotypes about costs. In truth the cost to medium and large employers will be negligible.
Actually, the best data is coming from San Francisco which shows that the costs were indeed negligible despite all the sensationalist arguments to the contrary at the time.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 11, 2013 @ 9:33 pm

focus on marriage rights because they as transsexuals can already get married? Sounds a little selfish when there are many more GLB people impacted by the lack of marriage equality than transsexuals impacted by the lack of health coverage for surgery.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Feb. 11, 2013 @ 9:53 pm

There is a US Federal Circuit or two that has granted marriage rights to transgender folks but that has not been resolved by the Supreme Court.

Of course the issue comes as to how can one group move forward with rights when others have to wait. That was the argument used in 2007 to demand that ENDA stall until it could be trans inclusive, a novel and unprecedented approach to civil rights.

That position did not prevail but it left deep scars. There has been no effort that I've seen to rally the queer communities to make ENDA and finding those missing votes for trans a priority. That would provide employment protections to queers in the flyover, no small shit.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 11, 2013 @ 10:18 pm

then why should either proceed without threesome marriage?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2013 @ 4:11 pm

be able to marry because it will mean that any gender can marry any other gender, and that would include people in any stage of transition, or not.

Posted by anon on Feb. 12, 2013 @ 5:57 pm


Posted by marcos on Feb. 12, 2013 @ 6:09 pm

Calling him a troll simply shows us that you know he has refuted you.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2013 @ 6:19 pm

I am appalled at the meanness and cruelty being directed at Gabriel Haaland and at the San Francisco City workforce. Ignorance knows no bounds: the comments on City workers bankrupting the City and then some more vile stupidity being thrown at Gabriel Haaland's way reveals the sham the City has become in tolerance and learning.

Posted by Nancy Snyder on Feb. 12, 2013 @ 11:34 am

different political viewpoint from yourself? I'm not seeing it at all.

You don't want diversity at all; you want groupthink.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2013 @ 11:59 am

I agree, Nancy, that the personal attacks on Gabriel are unwarranted.

I disagree, Nancy, with your comments about city workers and bankruptcy.

There are 24,000-28,000 city workers now consuming 52% of the city budget at the expense of services. They, and their entitlements (healthcare for life after just 5 years of service, retirement as early as 55, etc.) are IN FACT bankrupting San Francisco.

Our beloved "city family" needs real pension reform. Without it, the city will go bankrupt, absolutely. And the "city family" will be the biggerst loser b/it will lose all of its pension.

Read up on it, dear Nancy. Read what Harvey Rose, Jeff Adachi have to say.

Your ignorance is no excuse.

Posted by Troll the XIV on Feb. 12, 2013 @ 12:54 pm

The politicians lack the spine to deal with this, and of course are also beneficiaries of all this insane generosity.

But in a BK, we can rip up the book, fire thousands, re-write the employment contracts, move to a DC plan for pensions and make workers pay for their own healthcare.

It has to happen but it will not happen except when a BK judge mandates it, as is happening in a number of cities.

Oakland is much close to this than SF, but both cities will get there.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2013 @ 1:13 pm
Posted by matlock on Feb. 12, 2013 @ 5:47 pm

The various city union leadership does it's best to elect so called progressives who do their bidding. The unions hector these elected flunkies into creating more useless departments, and more useless jobs.

It is so entertaining to read the left talk about how we all are so ignorant, not agreeing with the opinions as fact of progressives is of course ignorant.

Why is Gabs above abuse? Because of the personal choices Gabs makes? If you put yourself into the political world expect abuse, writing such moronic progressives idiocy about how we all need to be "educated" deserves all sorts of abuse.

Henceforth please condition all of your posts with " I am tolerant of you as long as you agree with me..." then insert moronic diatribe.

Posted by matlock on Feb. 12, 2013 @ 5:45 pm

It's pretty horrible how there are people on here complaining about where their taxes are going to when we are literally discussing the surgery that can make or break someone's happiness. Money isn't everything, assholes, but this surgery very well could be for some people.

Posted by Mandy on Feb. 12, 2013 @ 8:20 pm

you should be able to spend other people's money to be happy?

I see.

Posted by matlock on Feb. 12, 2013 @ 8:52 pm