Miami Beach Becomes First City in Florida to Offer Health Benefits for Transgender Employees

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While Miami-Dade County couldn't even pass an ordinance protecting transgender people from discrimination, the City of Miami Beach is taking the lead in Florida when it comes to transgender rights. Last week the city commission unanimously passed a measure that would cover transitioning procedures for employees, becoming the first city in Florida to do so.

In October, the city will begin offering its employees health insurance that will cover gender-reassignment surgery and hormone and psychological therapy. According to the Miami Herald, things like cosmetic procedures, voice therapy, and laser hair removal will not be covered.

"It would cover the transition from male to female, female to male," Thomas Barker, chairman of Miami Beach's GLBT Business Enhancement Committee, told the paper. "The commission has directed the city manager's office to provide transgender health-care benefits in the next open enrollment."

"Our city is really pro-LGBT. It's important for us not to be pro-LGBT by word, but more importantly by action," Mayor Phillip Levine said. "Miami Beach, we want to make it the most progressive, pragmatic in America. These types of initiatives are part of that vision and our mandate."

Both the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association have agreed that transgender-related care is medically necessary for transgender people. Transgender people also face higher rates of depression and suicide than the general population.

In other words, it's a huge step forward for trans rights in Miami Beach. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for all of Miami-Dade County. An attempt last year to grant transgender people basic anti-discrimination protection under the county's Human Rights Ordinance was derailed by Commissioner Lynda Bill. However, Miami Beach and a few other municipalities already protect transgender people at the city level.

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