City insurance plans to now help pay for gender-confirming surgeries for city employees

BALTIMORE, Md. - Transgender people call it life-changing.  Wednesday morning, the Baltimore City Board of Estimates voted to provide gender-confirming surgery for city employees.

That means the city's self-insured health plans will now help to pay for gender-reassignment surgeries.

"It's a warmer place for everyone.  It's a warmer place for transgender people for gender non-conforming people this is a big deal for a lot of people who felt like they didn't have a voice in this," said Merrick Moses, a Baltimore City employee and president of the Board of Directors of The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Baltimore. 

He's a transgender man, born female who has been wanting gender reassignment surgery for years but hit a roadblock.

"I learned in January that my gender confirmation surgery would be scheduled for May 10 and on April 23 I found out that my insurance was not going to cover it," Moses said.

The city Board of Estimates approved a request Wednesday to provide gender-confirming surgery for city employees and will now be covered under city health plans; great news for Moses.

"It caused great distress in my life and so now that that burden has been lifted, I feel so much better."

He went to the city asking why gender-confirming surgery wasn't included in insurance plans.   

"As I got my story out and linked up with free state justice, and then I got my doctor involved here in Maryland and in New York, things started to move," Moses told WMAR 2 News.

Moses said he will soon be able to feel whole. 

"I called my doctor and I'm waiting for them to call me back so that I can actually schedule my next date."

The surgery he wanted would've cost more than $90,000. He thanked Mayor Catherine Pugh for her vision for making Baltimore a more diverse and inclusive city.

"I'm so thankful that she stood on the side of right and on the side of justice."

Moses said the ACLU Senator Chris Van Hollen also had a hand in making this vote happen.

Several Maryland counties along with D.C. already cover the surgery in their insurance plans.

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