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Ore. City Approves Transgendered Health Benefits

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By WILLIAM MCCALL

PORTLAND, Ore.  – The city of Portland has become the third local government in the nation to offer transgendered health care benefits for its employees with a unanimous vote Wednesday by city commissioners.

The vote also makes Oregon the only state with two jurisdictions offering the benefits. Portland is the seat of Multnomah County, which also provides similar benefits to its employees. San Francisco was the first and has been offering them for a decade, according to Jeana Frazzini, executive director of Basic Rights Oregon.

“The work of educating the community here in Oregon for more than two decades about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people makes a difference,” Frazzini said Wednesday. “I think that’s significant.”

Mayor Sam Adams and city commissioners got a standing ovation from the crowd at City Hall after their vote.

“I appreciate living in a city and serving on a City Council where we look at what is the right thing to do – even though it may not be politically popular,” said Commissioner Amanda Fritz.

With the plan’s approval, transgendered city workers will be able to select one of the city’s health plans and have their gender reassignment surgery covered by the insurance. The cost for adding coverage for sexual reassignment surgery to a nearly $42 million city health care plan for 2011-12 is a little over $32,000 – a 0.08 percent increase, according to a statement released by the mayor’s office.

The mayor also noted the American Medical Association has identified transgender health care as being medically necessary, and it supports public and private health insurance coverage for treatment of gender identity disorder.

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