November 16, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. — A Minnesota district court ruled this week that transgender people on the state's Medical Assistance progam in Minnesota deserve access to medically necessary services related to gender transition.

Since 2005, surgical treatments for gender dysphoria have been excluded from coverage even though equivalent treatments were covered under the federal Medicare program and private insurance plans. In December 2015, the American Civil Liberties Union along with the ACLU of Minnesota filed a lawsuit on behalf of OutFront Minnesota and Evan Thomas, a transgender man, challenging Minnesota’s ban on coverage.

Thomas was denied coverage for transition related surgery, despite being diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

“I'm so happy we've won. The judge’s ruling is a forceful statement that transgender people deserve equal treatment under the law. Right now, when we're suddenly facing a path that's so much rougher than it looked a few days ago, this victory looks even more important, and I'm proud to have been part of this case,” said Thomas. “I thank the ACLU for taking it on and winning such a good ruling — it's been a privilege to work with these wonderful, dedicated people.”

OutFront is Minnesota’s largest LGBTQ rights organization and was also a plaintiff in the case.

“OutFront Minnesota is delighted by this ruling, confirming what we knew all along: targeting transgender people like this is discriminatory, unconstitutional, and wrong.  Since filing this suit, we have been contacted by many individuals and families whose access to health care has been unjustly harmed. At last we can provide some hopeful news that the care they need may now be within reach,” stated Phil Duran, legal director of OutFront Minnesota.

Joshua Block, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s LGBT Project, said “The victory will bring immediate relief to the scores of transgender people living in Minnesota being denied the medical care they need. Singling out groups of people and denying them medically necessary care for no legitimate reason is wrong and harmful. We are glad the court agreed with respecting the dignity of people.”

The case was filed in Ramsey County District Court against Emily Johnson-Piper, the commissioner of Minnesota’s Department of Human Services.

Cooperating attorneys in the case include Block of the ACLU; Matt Ralph, Erin Conti, JoLynn Markison, James R. Mason, and Shannon McNeal of Dorsey & Whitney; and Teresa Nelson of the ACLU of Minnesota.

The decision, issued Monday, can be found here: https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/outfront-minnesota-v-johnson-piper-order

For more information visit: https://www.aclu.org/cases/outfront-v-johnson-piper

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