Today, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders praised the Connecticut Insurance Department for issuing a bulletin directing all health insurers operating in the state to pay for treatment related to a patient’s gender transition. The bulletin is a significant step toward increasing access to critical health care for transgender residents of Connecticut, who have long been arbitrarily denied coverage for medical treatments related to gender transition.

The bulletin, which was issued Dec. 19, directs entities licensed by the Department of Insurance and writing individual and group health insurance policies to “ensure that there is no discrimination against insured individuals with gender dysphoria and ensure that individuals are not denied access to medically necessary care because of the individual’s gender identity or expression.”

Gender dysphoria is defined as a “condition in which an individual is intensely uncomfortable with their biological gender and strongly identifies with, and wants to be, the opposite gender.”

“We applaud the Connecticut Insurance Department for this significant step to ensure that transgender people have access to life-saving, medically necessary care,” said Staff Attorney Zack Paakkonen. “First, it brings Connecticut health insurers into alignment with state and federal law prohibiting discrimination against transgender people in the health care setting. Second, the bulletin comports with the position of all of the major medical and psychological associations, which is that gender dysphoria is a legitimate medical condition with a prescribed course of effective, medically necessary treatment that should be determined by an individual’s doctor rather than an insurance company.”

Connecticut enacted a law in 2011 that prohibits discrimination against transgender people in employment, public accommodations, housing, credit, public schools, state contracts and numerous other areas. The Department of Insurance interpreted the legislative intent of the law to extend to health insurance practices as well. The federal Affordable Care Act also prohibits insurers from adopting benefit designs that discriminate against transgender people or on the basis of a specific health condition.

Insurance regulators in California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, and the District of Columbia have issued similar bulletins instructing insurers in their respective jurisdictions to cover treatment for transgender patients equitably. Efforts are underway to have other New England states issue similar bulletins.

Read the full bulletin from the Connecticut Insurance Department here.