Transgender Rep. civil lawsuit against Georgia County goes to court seeking monetary damages because health insurance did not cover gender reassignment surgery

The court continued Monday a civil case in which a sheriff’s deputy sought damages from Houston County in Georgia. The deputy, Sgt. Anna Lange, claims that the county Health insurance unlawfully denied coverage for Lange’s sex reassignment surgery.

The lawsuit seeks damages for emotional distress, attorneys’ fees and reimbursement of over $10,000 in medical expenses. Lange claimed that the medical costs arose because the county’s insurance plan refused to cover sex surgery.

In June, US District Court Judge Marc Treadwell ruled that Houston County’s refusal to cover the operation constituted illegal sex discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Judge Treadwell found that Lange’s surgery was “medically necessary.” His court order cited a 2020 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found a Michigan funeral home cannot fire an employee for being transgender.

“It only goes to show that justice will prevail and bigotry and ignorance will not,” said Long after the June verdict. “Hopefully this sends a message to the trans community and their employers who hold back trans healthcare that this will not be tolerated.”

The lawsuit alleged that the county and supervisors deliberately discriminated against Lange. Treadwell wrote in his June order that the sheriff and other county officials were notified in 2018 that Lange wanted to start dressing as a woman at work. At the time, Lange asked whether the health insurance company would cover gender reassignment surgery.

According to Lange, Sheriff Cullen Talton replied that he “doesn’t believe in sex reassignment surgery.” Despite this, Talton gave Lange permission to dress as a woman.

Houston County’s health plan has barred gender-specific surgeries since 1998. In 2016, the county’s insurance company recommended updating the health plan to include the surgery, stating that denying coverage under the Affordable Care Act is considered discriminatory. Regardless, the county chose to continue declining to report.

The judge ruled that there was insufficient evidence to support the lawsuit’s allegation that Lange County intentionally discriminated. Instead, Treadwell ordered a civil trial where the jury could decide whether the county should award Lange damages.

Houston County argued that the refusal to cover the surgery was not intended to discriminate against Lange but was intended to keep health insurance costs down.

Long told WMAZ TV“Now that I’ve been through it and felt it, I know that surely everyone needs to stand up when they see something that’s not right, where people are being treated a certain way, and just say, ‘You know, enough.’ “ Transgender Rep. civil lawsuit against Georgia County goes to court seeking monetary damages because health insurance did not cover gender reassignment surgery

Laura Coffey

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