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University of Arizona professor sues state for not insuring ‘gender-confirming’ procedure

Says current policy is ‘discriminatory’

A transgender university professor has filed a lawsuit against the state of Arizona for its “discriminatory” health insurance plan that does not cover hysterectomies for transgender individuals.

Russell Toomey, who teaches family studies and human development at the University of Arizona, worked with the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Arizona, and the Aiken Schenk Hawkins & Ricciardi P.C. law firm to file a class-action lawsuit against the state of Arizona and the Arizona Board of Regents, who manage the health insurance policy.

According to the lawsuit filed by Toomey: “The Plan provides coverage for the same hysterectomies when prescribed as medically necessary treatment for other medical conditions. But, the Plan categorically excludes coverage for hysterectomies when they are medically necessary for purposes of ‘[g]ender reassignment.’”

“On its face, the Plan discriminates against Dr. Toomey and other transgender employees ‘because of … sex’ in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and deprives Dr. Toomey and other transgender employees of equal treatment under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,” the lawsuit continues.

The College Fix reached out to the Arizona Board of Regents for comment. A representative stated that the board does not comment on pending litigation. In an email to The Fix, Toomey said, “To my knowledge, the University of Arizona has not responded publicly to the lawsuit.”

In a blog post Toomey wrote for the ACLU Arizona’s website, the professor states: “The fact that the state of Arizona’s health insurance coverage categorically excludes transition-related surgery is a violation of federal civil rights laws and the U.S. Constitution.”

Toomey continues to describe transition-related surgeries as “medically necessary care” and says that the “same care would be covered for cisgender people.”

Toomey said that the hysterectomy procedure is unaffordable out-of-pocket.

“Until Arizona’s discriminatory health plan is improved, I will be forced to live with aspects of my body that do not align with my identity and cause me significant anxiety,” the professor said.

In the blog post for the ACLU, Toomey, who holds a doctorate degree from the University of Arizona, writes, “I have dedicated my career to studying how discrimination impacts LGBTQ adolescents.”

The State of Arizona’s benefits and coverage policies currently list “gender reassignment surgery” under exclusions.

According to a press release from the ACLU of Arizona, “the lawsuit asks the court to remove the health plan’s exclusion for gender-confirming surgery. It also seeks the opportunity for all transgender state employees and dependents to have their claims for transition-related surgery evaluated as medically necessary under the same standards and procedures the health plan applies to other medical treatments.”

Transgender individuals often undertake surgery, such as removing their breasts or genitals, as well as removing their uteruses, in order to conform their bodies to their “gender identity.”

“I was in my early 20s when I began my gender transition. In 2004, I had a double mastectomy that cost me $8,000 out of pocket,” Toomey writes.

MORE: Judge says state must pay for university employees’ transgender transition surgeries

MORE: Transgender activists gearing up to rewrite Harvard Medical School’s curriculum

IMAGE: Maksim Kabakou / Shutterstock.com

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About the Author
Edyta Wolk -- Franciscan University of Steubenville