(Boston, Massachusetts) This afternoon, the Patrick Administration announced that it will remove barriers to health care coverage for transgender people in both private insurance and in public programs.

“This announcement is truly historic,” said Jennifer Levi, director of the Transgender Rights Project at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD).  “This removes all legal barriers in Massachusetts to access to health care for transgender people, and affirms the overwhelming medical consensus that gender reassignment surgery and other related procedures are essential health care services.  Massachusetts is a leader in providing health care to transgender people, and should be a model for other states.”

The announcement follows closely last week’s move by Medicare removing a categorical exclusion of gender reassignment surgery from its coverage, after advocacy by GLAD, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.  It comes within weeks after GLAD filed a MassHealth claim on behalf of Rikki Bates, and builds on the foundation established by GLAD’s victory in the case O’Donnabhain v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, a national decision that the IRS cannot deny a tax deduction for medical expenses related to gender reassignment surgery.