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February 2, 2010

GLAD Wins Equal Treatment for Transgender Taxpayers

The U.S. Tax Court today issued a long-awaited decision in O’Donnabhain v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, ruling that treatment for gender identity disorder (GID) qualifies as medical care under the Internal Revenue Code, and is therefore deductible.

“This decision treats Rhiannon O’Donnabhain the way she deserves to be treated—like any hard-working American taxpayer with medical expenses,” said Karen Loewy, senior staff attorney with Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), which represented Ms. O’Donnabhain.

“From the start, this has been a no-brainer.  Every mainstream medical authority from the American Psychiatric Association to the National Institutes of Health recognize the legitimacy of providing medical care for transgender people.  Dismissing these medical expenses as illegitimate and not deductible was discrimination, pure and simple.”

In an opinion reviewed by the full bench, the United States Tax Court affirmed that medical treatments for GID, including surgery and hormone therapy, are deductible medical expenses.  Moreover, the Court stated that the IRS’s position that such treatment is cosmetic in nature “is at best a superficial characterization of the circumstances that is thoroughly rebutted by the medical evidence.”

“I’m overjoyed, not only for me, but for other transgender people,” said Ms. O’Donnabhain.  “We deserve respect, equal treatment for our medical care, and fair treatment by our government.”

Read a more detailed explanation of this court victory and its implications

Read the decision

Read GLAD’s press release

Associated Press: Tax Court Ok’s Deduction for Mass. Woman’s Sex Change