Insurer condemned for discriminating against transgender person

Thursday, 14 June 2018 15:35
Insurer condemned for discriminating against transgender person © Belga
The Brussels labour tribunal ruled against an insurer that refused to cover the medical treatment costs of the “sexual re-assignation” of a transgender woman, according to the Institute for Equality between Men and Women.
The insurer has appealed against the ruling, which was handed down in late April.

The group insurance company refused to reimburse the costs in 2015 because it could only do so if the state of the insuree’s health had worsened, which implied symptoms allowing for diagnosis and the prescribing of adequate treatment. This was not the case, according to the insurer.

However, the doctors had noted that the person had been suffering from her gender identity and had diagnosed gender dysphoria.

(According to the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Troubles, dysphoria is an ailment that persons whose gender does not match their sex.)

To ease her suffering, her doctors had found it necessary to administer a “sexual reassignation therapy”, with a view to attributing her real sex to her.

"Transgender persons do not all suffer from their gender identity and they do not all need medical treatment, but when people suffer from their transgender identity, it’s very important for them to have access to medical treatment that can end their suffering,” Michel Pasteel, director of the Institute for the Equality of Women and Men, explained.

“Like any other person undergoing medical treatment, a transgender person must have the right to be reimbursed for medical expenses and to obtain a guaranteed income through hospitalisation insurance. That’s the only way to fully protect transgender persons,” he added.

For the Institute, the insurer’s refusal to honor the reimbursement claim constitutes discrimination. The Labour Tribunal agreed and condemned the insurer to pay damages, reimburse the insuree’s medical costs and provide her with an income while on disability leave. However, the insurer has filed an appeal.

In 2017. 11% of the complaints received by the Institute had to do with discrimination against transgender persons.

Christopher Vincent
The Brussels Times
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