News Release - City to Add Transgender Medical Services to Benefit Plan

City of Rochester

News Release

(Saturday, May 17, 2014) – Mayor Lovely A. Warren was joined this evening by City Councilmember Matt Haag at the Empire State Pride Agenda’s Spring Dinner to announce that effective January 1, 2015, the City of Rochester will add transgender healthcare benefits for employees and their family members who are enrolled in the City’s ‘enhanced’ medical plan.

Approved by the City’s Labor Management Healthcare Committee in April, the new coverage will pay for services related to gender reassignment surgery such as medical and psychological counseling, hormone therapy and cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries.

Councilmember Haag is spearheading a four-point plan to raise the City’s Municipal Equality Index (MEI), a measure of a city’s LGBT policies and how inclusive each city is with members of LGBT communities. The MEI is released annually by the Human Rights Campaign, a large national organization working for equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.

In July 2013, the City updated its non-discrimination policy to include gender identity and gender expression and named a Mayoral liaison to the LGBT community (currently Staff Assistant to the Mayor, Andreas Rau). Today’s announcement of transgender inclusive health benefits is the third point of the plan, and the Councilmember is planning to create a study that will review the possibility of enacting a contractor equal benefits ordinance.

“I would like to acknowledge and thank Councilmember Haag and the City’s Labor Management Healthcare Committee for helping to make Rochester’s healthcare policies relevant to all of our citizens,” said Mayor Warren. “Eliminating barriers to health care is simply the right thing to do. The City was the first to support domestic partnerships and I am happy that we lead the effort to equalize benefits for all once again.”

“I am committed to ensuring the Trans* community's full participation in our City,” said Councilmember Haag. “I am pleased that Mayor Warren has joined me in working to achieve this goal. Together, we will ensure that City employees, their spouses and dependents will have the fullest gender-affirming benefits that our insurer provides. It is great news that Rochester has stepped up to provide a Trans* inclusive health policy for all City employees. I realize far too many Trans* citizens of this state and of this community will continue to be without healthcare inclusive of need,” continued Councilmember Haag. “While we must continue to advocate for equality for all of our citizens, the City of Rochester will not sit on the sidelines in this fight; we will lead by example. It is now time that this county, this state and its employers now follow.”

“We’re so proud that Mayor Warren, Councilmember Haag and the City of Rochester shared this significant news on this auspicious occasion of the Pride Agenda’s 15th Spring Dinner. The inclusion of transition-related care in municipal benefits will improve the health and well-being of transgender employees and also send a message to the rest of our state that we need to provide medically-necessary care to all transgender New Yorkers,” said Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Nathan M. Schaefer. “Rochester has long been a leader on LGBT civil rights and this is just one more example of how this great city sets a strong example for the rest of New York State.”


News Media: For more information, contact City Communications Director Christine Christopher at 428-7135.