SPRIINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA)– Governor Pritzker announced he plans to add medicaid coverage for adult gender reassignment surgery. Pritzker said the move aims to make the state more inclusive but some groups believe the state should not be footing the bill.
“This is a win for the ‘T’ community,” said Jonna Cooley, Executive Director of The Phoenix Center in Springfield.
T meaning transgender. According to the Department of Public Health, about 50,000 people identified as transgender in Illinois as of 2014. Governor Pritzker wants to ensure Medicaid recipients within that community have access to surgery to treat gender dysphoria.“People who have gender identity issues may seek mental health services and it is typically a where there assigned gender and the gender in which they identify are not congruent so they are feeling some level of distress in relationship to that incongruency so they may reach out for assistance and get a diagnosis of gender dysphoria,” Cooley said.
In a tweet, the governor wrote, “Expanding Medicaid to cover gender affirming surgeries is cost effective, helps avoid long term health consequences and most importantly is the right thing to do.
Advocates said the proposal will help those who want to have gender assignment procedures done.
“If you identify as a transgender individual, you do not have to have surgery, it’s not a requirement to be transgender. Transgender is an identity, it is not about the parts you have or don’t have. I think this certainly a validating opportunity,” said Cooley.
Not everyone calls the call for coverage a win. the Illinois Family Institute said partially in a statement: “The surgery Pritzker seeks to make taxpayers fund in this morally and fiscally bankrupt state is surgery that mutilates healthy bodies in order to enable those who suffer from gender dysphoria to pass as the sex they are not and never can be.”
Late Monday afternoon, Louisville Republican Representative Darren Bailey announced he is filing a bill to block the governor’s move. He hopes to gain enough support to successfully do so.