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'Progress' for city employee's health benefits

Rochester, N.Y. -- Starting in 2015, the City of Rochester will offer transgender health care benefits for city employees who are enrolled in the city's enhanced health medical plan.

That announcement came on Saturday from Mayor Lovely Warren at the Empire State Pride Agenda.

Approved by the city's Labor Management Healthcare Committee in April, the new coverage will pay for services related to gender reassignment surgery, such as medical and psychological counseling, hormone therapy and cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries.

Although the measures apply to city transgender employees, the announcement generated a lot of talk in the transgender community.

"I am a guy, but I was born with a female body," said Ben Eshleman, a college student and part-time barista at Equal Grounds coffee house in Rochester. "This is absolutely progress, and I'm wildly excited by it."

Eshelman said hormone treatments, counseling and, eventually, surgery can be very costly.

"It can be thousands of dollars, and for a lot of people it's out of pocket," he said, adding that he is not considering surgery at this point for personal reasons. "I am a male, but I've taken steps to transition to that."

Some have criticized the move and questioned whether or not the gender transition surgeries should be considered non-elective.

The benefits will go into effect Jan. 1, 2015, when the city will then add transgender health care benefits for employees and their family members who are enrolled in the city's enhanced medical plan.

 

 
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