Two transgender women filed a lawsuit on Monday against the state of Florida, arguing the state’s ban on transgender health coverage for state employees is unconstitutional. In addition to the women’s constitutional claims, they also claim that the state is discriminating against the on the basis of their sex, which is prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
Currently in Florida, the insurance state employees are offered explicitly exclude coverage of “gender reassignment or modification services or supplies.” The two women attempted to seek coverage for medically necessary gender-affirming care but were denied, despite their doctors requesting such treatment. Currently, one of the plaintiffs is paying out-of-pocket for her treatments and is seeking to recoup such losses.
The complaint, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of the women, argues that Florida’s “categorical exclusion of medically necessary gender-affirming care in all [their] Plans constitutes unlawful sex discrimination in violation of Title VII and the Equal Protection Clause.”
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prevents discrimination based on gender within the workplace. Similarly, the Equal Protection Clause within the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits any government from denying any “person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the law.” Because the case revolves around a state government health insurance plan offered through work at a public university, both laws are implicated.
In a press release issued Monday, ACLU of Florida co-counsel Jimmy Midyette explained the suit was important to address the numerous state transgender employees who could be affected, estimated to be around 650. The ACLU argues the litigation is an important step for ending this this categorical discrimination, with one of the plaintiffs stating, “If Florida won’t voluntarily join the right side of history, we will gladly facilitate that journey.”