By JOE KELLY/Courthouse News

MADISON, Wis. (CN) – In a ruling filed Tuesday, a federal judge in Wisconsin ordered that the state and its insurers must cover transition procedures for transgender state employees.

U.S. District Court Judge William Conley found that there was no legal basis for a specific exclusion in the Uniform Benefits adopted by the state’s Group Insurance Board that rules out coverage for “procedures, services and supplies related to surgery and sex hormones associated with gender reassignment.”

The exclusion, which has existed in some form since 1994, was found to violate Title VII, the Affordable Care Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

The board voted unanimously to remove the exclusion in July, 2016. However, in December of that year, it voted to reinstate the exclusion, which went back into effect Feb. 1, 2017.

Conley stated in his opinion that “the exclusion on its face treats transgender individuals differently on the basis of sex.”

The plaintiffs in the case, Alina Boyden, a University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate student who has worked as a teaching assistant, and Shannon Andrews, who works at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health as a researcher in the Carbone Cancer Center, first filed suit in Spring 2017. They were represented by the ACLU of Wisconsin and volunteer attorneys from the law firm Hawks Quindel.

“Today, I feel vindicated the court recognized what the state did was wrong,” Andrews stated in an ACLU Wisconsin press release.

“I hope that this will be a powerful signal that trans people are not fair game for discrimination and that our lives and health are not a political football,” Andrews said.

Conley took exception with the defendants’ claim that requiring the state to cover gender-confirmation procedures would, in their words, “insert the State directly into the business of encouraging surgeries meant to conform peoples’ appearances to their own perceived sex stereotypes.”

Conley deemed that argument “unhinged from reality.”

“As an initial matter, removing the Exclusion does not compel surgery, nor any other treatment for gender dysphoria,” the judge wrote.

Conley went on to reaffirm that not all transgender individuals suffer from gender dysphoria, and that gender-confirmation surgery and hormone therapy are not always recommended courses of treatment for those that do.

Conley went on to say that “Nothing about offering coverage without regard to one’s natal sex forces individuals to have surgery to conform their physical traits to their identified gender.”

He said he considered the defendants’ assertion “entirely disingenuous.”

Conley did, however, agree with the argument that the individual defendants are entitled to qualified immunity on any claim for damages based on a violation of the Equal Protection Clause.

Board-approved health insurance coverage for gender-confirmation surgery for state employees will be effective Jan. 1, 2019.

Legal director for the ACLU of Wisconsin Larry Dupuis stated in the release that, “As the court found today, depriving transgender people of access to transition-related care is sex discrimination.”

“We will continue our work until all transgender people can get the medical care they need, just like other people can,” he said.

Conley’s opinion acknowledged the plaintiffs’ right to pursue equitable relief, compensatory and punitive damages and an award of attorneys’ fees and cost.

Any equitable relief and attorneys’ fees and cost will be determined at trial, but the defendants have demanded a jury trial for claims to damages. That trial date is set for Oct. 9.

80 replies on “Wisconsin ordered to cover surgeries for transgender state employees”

  1. this has to be a joke…is it april 1st? i am not one to degrade people but to have everyone pay for someones reassignment surgery is just criminal. Maybe pay for their mental health instead. There is a reason the suicide rate for trans individuals is so high. they are not happy with themselves and this never fixes the underlying issue. We are just enabling it with tax payer dollars. This entire movement is getting out of hand.

    Also the ALCU is involved so we know something is amiss…

    1. No, the reason trans people have such a high suicide right is BECAUSE they are degraded. Surgery DOES help. And if you knew anything then you would realize that they DO get mental health care. it is part of the treatment. Try learning something before you look like a hateful bigot.

  2. (I will walk into this one)

    Health care is health care. We do not get to stop providing care based on our moral objections.

    1. you are walking into this lol…brave

      this is essentially …non elective plastic surgery…which means not medically necessary. what harm will come to the individuals if the surgery/ taking meds does not take place. Can you answer that?

      What about real medical issues such with ovarian cancer? The persons mental wellness appointments should be covered. I am all for that. People need to get their mind right and we are just enablers.\

      As i mentioned most trans individuals hate themselves just as much or more after the surgery.

  3. Todd,

    I am not a doctor, and cannot answer your question. But, insurance companies have plenty of doctors, as do groups like the AMA, and they have determined that this can be medical need. And as such, someone with insurance coverage should have it paid for.

    I do not know that MOST trans people hate themselves, and I am sure you do not know that either.

    My point is, if a doctor deems it needed, then it is needed. Health care is health care.

    A counter balance, my teeth whitening is covered by my dental coverage. My liposuction is as well. (I have not had either for the record). Viagra is covered. Cialis. Why is vaigra medically needed?

    1. they don’t hate themselves? Fine maybe confused for the snowflakes… This is from the far left USA today article.

      suicide attempts are alarmingly common among transgender individuals such as Lampe; 41% try to kill themselves at some point in their lives, compared with 4.6% of the general public.

  4. Okay Todd, I will accept that number. Do you think denying the the ability to change their body to what they, and there doctors deem appropriate is going to help? I would be interested if there were statistic on pre op suicide vs post op suicide.

    I am responding to your posts respectfully, I would prefer it if you do not call me names like Snowflake. I am not calling you names.

    Substantively though, being trapped in a body that feels like a prison, or is somehow disconnected from you, I imagine is a massive burden, and we have the ability to correct this trouble. I do not see why we would deny them it, if the doctors deem it appropriate.

    I think your classification of reassignment is incorrect. There are three clear steps in the process. 1. A mental health evaluation, 2.A clear and consistent documentation of gender dysphoria. 3. A “real life” test

    These can take serious amounts of time.

      1. Todd,

        Thanks buddy. Its okay, I get it. But I want to aspire to be less of a dick, and lift up people around me as well. We can scream at each other plenty, but we can also try to actually talk.

        I want to give it my best shot.

    1. I don’t know the pre-op and post-op stats either but, wither way it boils down to society being dicks to them.

      1. MAybe Susan should actually bring some substance to this discussion before speaking up. You blame it on people being dicks to them instead of it a possible underlying mental issue. Which you would rather sweep under the rug. Are there any sane people left in the world?

      2. Care to read all my comments before you say baseless bullshit? I already told you that mental heath is PART of the process. You really shouldn’t pretend to care about what other people say if you are just going to ignore. But, I see now that I am wasting my time with you. You are perfectly happy being hateful and not wanting to learn anything.

      3. hahaha…susan. When is mental heath ever solved with surgery? If you can to cite some examples i would listen. schizophrenia? what do do about that? not surgery… Depression? Not surgery. This so called needed surgery will change them on the outside but what will that fix? It does not! address the underlying issue of mental health! my goodness. I don’t care if dr’s or psychologists give it name they give everything a name! why? To make more money from insurance companies. Heck standard anxiety is considered a big deal now and they are being lumped in with people who have actual! depression or anxiety. I could go on for days.

      4. When the problem is gender disphoria..You would know that if you actually cared to study an issue instead of mocking everything you don’t understand.

      5. Todd,

        I think you are being pretty cavalier about the whole thing. The surgery, and surrounding medical procedures is not simply cosmetic. There is extensive hormone treatment, and mental health follow up as well.
        It is not simply cosmetics. And I would also acknowledge that the world of mental health care is changing, and not everyone is understanding or supportive. I understand that position, but it does not make it right. I think you are wrong about doctors naming things just for profit. Medical researches have an increasingly sensitive array of tools, and these tools allow them to see and diagnose conditions in a much finer focus than ever before. For example, the a1C tests common for diabetes, was born in the 50s, grew in the 70s, and now is standard based on increased equipment. This is not a question of doctors seeking to make money, it is a case of the tools being used to diagnose diabetes getting better.

        The result is we have more diabetics, but at least those people are getting treated.

        Yes, I am comparing diabetes to gender dysmorphia.

      6. Yes, what Dino said is all true ( as usual) just want to add that mental health care is also the first step. Not just after post op.

      7. susan i don’t see any facts on this page from you just feelings..virtue signaling is just hot air with no substance. No i have not went to past articles to see what you have written. but you seem to get pretty angry. i would calm down.

  5. Well, this involves a decision by a judge based on law and the Constitution and Science… welcome to the 21st Century and self-actualization: the realization or fulfillment of one’s talents and potentialities, especially considered as a drive or need present in everyone and this means achieving fulfillment of their sexual-identity.

    Listen to Dino Corvino… he is always in favor of medical services and ” There are three clear steps in the process. 1. A mental health evaluation, 2.A clear and consistent documentation of gender dysphoria. 3. A “real life” test.”

    As for the term “snowflake” meant as an insult… since each snowflake is unique and thereby wonderful, you might want to recognize that each person is also unique and thereby wonderful.

    1. That is why ther term is used. People who have no interest or empathy towards a group use it because it is easier then learning how other people live. Ironically, it is those who use the tern that actually act live they are special and need to be catered to.

  6. Constant submission to mend the micro minority of oddity is disorienting the ones with what is conceived as a populace behavior. Tank God beastiality is not legal in this country like some Northern European countries. I will be really upset if I had to pay for their contraception. We are already paying a lot for the little societal contributing liberals and the entitled useless government employees.

    1. Ron:

      Due process, equal protection under the law… protection of individual rights and minority rights… don’t you just love our Republic!

      liberals and government employees pay taxes and serve the public… why do you have a problem with being favorable to or respectful of individual rights and freedoms: favoring maximum individual liberty in political and social reform:

      1. You are contradicting yourself in one post. Is it “equal” as in we all get the same insurance and early retirement as yourself or is it “Favorable” as in you are better then the rest of us and we have to pay for your special status? Spare us “You” contribute to those benefits. Tax payers do!

      2. Ron: liberal is defined as being favorable to or respectful of individual rights and freedoms: favoring maximum individual liberty in political and social reform: This includes that everyone has access to quality health insurance and care with all 10 essential benefits as the base… that is the equal protection, due process, when you ave a job, you are compensated with wages, benefits, health care… or you should be! I do not claim to be better, I do claim the fact I underwent the training, education, student teaching, passed the police back ground check, was interviewed, hired, evaluate every year and offered new contracts, did volunteer work above and beyond… have you achieved these levels of achievement and training then you could be a teacher, police officer, teach at the tech, work for ASU, and do the plethora of jobs I have in both the private and public sector.

        I also am a tax payer and voter, community member and family man… If you want to teach… you have two avenues… private or public… I have done both and did my job with dedication and love… please dial down the anti-public work vehemence.

      3. john…you said liberal is defined as being favorable to or respectful of individual rights and freedoms favoring maximum individual liberty in political and social reform…What about our rights/respect our decision not to pay for crazy surgeries? like ron said where does it stop?

        Seems like this decision steps on all of our individual rights and freedoms as taxpayers…like ron said do this on your own time with your own money.

    1. I know Dino! Not sure why? But we do as a society pay for people to exchange and squirting bodily fluids. I just would be upset if we payed for beastiality exchange as well. In short, where do we draw the line.

      1. Ron:
        Contraception is used for other uses beyond birth control, it allows choice for medical reasons, financial, reasons, economic reasons, and career reasons… when you have enough children, you can stop, or space out the children… if you want children… you can have special assistance in getting pregnant…
        Men and women are entitled to intimate relationships that are not for reproduction… and you focus on beastiality is rather curios?

    2. John, I care less of other people’s personal life. Be it contraception, sex change or their favorite organs replacement. They can all pay for it themselves.

      As a compromise in good faith, in order not to be responsible for the millions of mental waste, I say we should offer them the free services in the world most popular sex change country, Iran. I say ship them to Iran and save us millions in Tax dollars. They will come back happy till their next mental change.

      1. Ron, do you have any idea why Iran is that “gender reassignment capital as you put it?” I am guessing you don’t actually care because you are just full of hate masquerading as not actually caring what people do in their personal lives.

      2. So ,not only are you transphobic you are also sexist. Not to mention your are so full of hate it affects your reading comprehension.

      3. Funny comment coming from someone that identifies by their birth sex. Imagine if I insulted you under the umbrella of “Masculism”. Enjoy your trendy insults to anything that is not certified “Feminist”. Not my fault if I was not born female, lesbian, or an oddity.

      4. Really? I have to be trans in order to understand trans issues? ROTFLMAO. No wonder you hate women. And no wonder you think I hate men. After all, I’m not a man. BTW, sexism does go both ways but, I haven’t done of of that. Enjoy living in your world of male privilege where you are superior to every non-male. Just do us all a favor and do it under a rock where you can’t hurt anybody.

      5. That is how you get your positions? Yep, just more evidence that you don’t bother to think just react.

  7. Sure, Ron, I will give it a try. There comes a point where public health is something we as a society invest in. It becomes cheaper to give people medication in advance, rather than wait for the bad thing. It is why places like Bridge Clinic have such a strong investment in things like Diabetes or Blood Pressure Screening, or Dental Care. Because by providing mantenance services for stuff like that rather than crisis funding for these outcomes, it is cheaper. Sort of like why we maintain our cars, because regular oil changes cost less over time than a siezed motor (I am not a car guy, so I just assumed that).

    THe economic impact of things like unintended pregnancy is large. For example, Wisconsin actually saved 13 million dollars a year in uninitended pregnacny costs while it had a Family Planning Waiver, so it is budget advantageous to prevent medicaid births. New Jerseys program was budget nuetral, and Texas as well. Both of these programs were cut by Christie and Perry, and as a result medicaid birth costs skyrocketed.

    In short, invest in care is easier than investing in crisis.

    1. For all wonderful above benefits, from free healthcare, free preventative services, free screening and free dental to a certain group of people, the Middle class that subsidizes it, has to think twice if they can afford the same services for their own family on extended payment plans. Who cares for the Middle class? The wealthy? The entitled Government employees that want the same services subsidized by the middle class? The unfortunate or the lazy ones? Who does? I say the hell with them all and let everyone pay for their own “sex change” or “sex joy”.

      1. Ron: You are aware… nothing is free, everything has a cost… with universal health care, Medicare for all, we use tax dollars to give everyone quality health care and it works out to less expensive and we get better results… you concern for the Middle class is admirable and they will straight up benefit from universal or Medicare for All… we can also improve the competitive aspect of our businesses when this is a government missions… like roads, eduction, the military, public safety….

      2. Ron…you are correct government workers get better pensions and healthcare than any private sector company.

        A new report from the Congressional Budget Office translates that blessing into dollars and cents. While federal employees tend to receive lower salaries than their counterparts in the private sector, they enjoy far more generous benefits. As a result, that federal workers receive “17 percent more in total compensation.”

        For the government’s 2.2 million civilian workers, that added up to $215 billion in fiscal year 2016, an average of more than $97,000 per person in wages and benefits. In comparison, a December 2016 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics calculated average compensation for private sector workers: $68,141 per year.

      3. You are correct Todd! People like John should give back to society $97,000 – $68,000 = $29,000 per year x a lazy 30 years of work = $870,000

  8. Todd:
    Comparing the Compensation of Federal and Private-Sector Employees, 2011 to 2015 April 25, 2017 Report

    During the 2011-2015 period, the difference between the wages, benefits, and total compensation of federal civilian employees and those of similar private-sector employees varied widely depending on the employees’ educational attainment.

    “How does the compensation of federal civilian employees compare with that of employees in the private sector? The answer to that question is complicated by the fact that the federal and private-sector workforces differ in characteristics that can affect compensation, such as experience, education, and occupation. On the whole, federal workers tend to be older, more educated, and more concentrated in professional occupations than private-sector workers.”

    1. The fact you cost society and additional $870,000 for being an entitled Government employee. You should consider doing the honorable thing and give it back. Half or it?

      1. exactly…thats why certain cities in cali ( 3 of them) are trying to claim bankruptcy…detroit is broke chicago etc…bloated government pensions that go on until that person passes. Its just crazy.

      2. Ron:
        Your numbers are bogus… I did my job and worked hard, I paid my taxes, social security, medicare, and into the pension as part of the deferred payment for the work I preformed… You should consider doing the honorable thing like respecting the work of other and using your last name on you comments.

        I didn’t work for the government all the time, I worked for the school district, military, police force, university… surprised we didn’t meet in the hallways…

    2. federal workers tend to be older, more educated, and more concentrated in professional occupations than private-sector workers.”…this is just not true at all..have you talked to any of the people on the east coast that work for the gov. I have! yikes!

      The only federal workers that should get these great retirement plans are those who put their life on the lines. Police, fire fighters, military and i would add teachers because they are important to the fabric of our society.

      1. “Police, fire fighters, military and i would add teachers because they are important to the fabric of our society.” Over rated! We all are important to the fabric. See the (10) most dangerous jobs that do not even have benefits, let long early retirement or (3) month payed vacation.

      2. Good:
        I have done all three.They all tend to be jobs for younger people! Thanks for the vote of confidence!

    3. “until that person passes” are you kidding me? More like until their partner passes after them. The benefits covers partners as well.

      1. The benefits cove me! My partner has her own set up!

        “Police, fire fighters, military and i would add teachers because they are important to the fabric of our society.”

        The other jobs are flat out dangerous and important also. If they had better unions, then they would have better safety conditions.

  9. Ron and Todd, First off lets not get me pulled into the nightmare that is Enk. I am going to try to answer around those parts.

    Primarily that the middle class faces an undue burden for helping the poor. There might be some truth to that, and it is cool that we all aspire to wealth, but part of that is about America helping the least of us. We are, as a country, committed to everyone getting ahead. I think it is fair that the middle class is convinced that they take a lot of the brunt for that. I think they do.

    But it is not the poor doing it to them. For the most part it is elected officials trying to govern as much or more while cutting taxes in transparent attempts to pacify the large voting block

    Look, I am not going to try to convince you that your not paying too much. But, I will say that I think what you are paying helps a lot of people with a lot of things that they need. We can debate if trans surgery or WIC or contraception or school lunch should be covered. But, we should debate that fairly. I hope I am doing that.

  10. Dino,
    Very sanctimonious making a show of being morally superior to other people:
    The nightmare – a person, thing, or situation that is very difficult to deal with:
    Since I speak the truth, expand the topic, and don’t lie, smear, act in an uncivil manner… what is the major problem… it is a public comment section and I am part of the public… with opinions, training in health, worked to help sign people up for the ACA, research the topic throughly, support community positions and those of my faith and several others… you seem way to defense about your turf…

  11. John,

    The major problem, as I have said before, is your intentionally derailing discussions. You conflate things. You are trolling.

    1. Dino, I generally agree with you but, you can’t get upset with name calling and then name call.

      1. 1. I did not call John any names at all. 2. He has been a constant disruptive force on this website.

      2. You called him a nightmare. Unless by name calling you mean being called something with no basis in fact.

      3. Sorry for asking for civility, that the posters that are so free with insults and name calling and demanding that public employees return money they have earned… oh wait, I am not the least bit sorry… I also am not sorry that I suggest we see the broader picture and understand the the back story for why education is underfunded, why health care is underfunded and the state tax payers had to pay billions more, why cities, counties, and the university system are being funded without the shared revenue and that tax cuts don’t repair or pave our roads… lighten up Dino and join in the conversation… you have great comments and knowledge and for the life of me I don’t understand your authoritarian posture…
        the editor is working hard and I am sure the nasty comments prevent others from making comments… I know friends that read the Pilot that don’t want the harassment and name calling…
        remember Keene was awarded honors for being The Disruptor… which also means “innovative or groundbreaking,” yes, Keene is knowledgeable and creative… but he also has a nasty streak and attacks other.

      4. Look, I can’t possibly monitor comments 24/7 and believe it or not would like to take a few hours or even a day off now and then. Please – all of you – be civil to one another. That said, a VERY small percentage of readers comment or even read the comments – I know this because I can see how many people scroll down far enough to see them. And I also know that we had more than 540,000 page views last month and yet comments have been made by about 10 people. The vast majority of commenting these days is done on Facebook, where we have more than 11,000 followers. I value the comment section myself because I enjoy hearing the varied points of view, and I’ve gotten some interesting ideas for future stories from comments, too. I don’t have the time or the staffing to CONSTANTLY monitor comments and don’t want to turn commenting off, but I’m edging toward that (again).

  12. I don’t derail, I expand and present other viewpoints…. when your cohorts insult and make rude comments, I try to save time and address then at a single time, conflating is not a negative… pushing a single narrative often ignores the important ideas and issues,
    trolling? “make a deliberately offensive or provocative online post with the aim of upsetting someone or eliciting an angry response from them:”
    Not even close Dino, I don’t make offensive or provocative posts, usually I am responding to the offensive and provocative comments by “our gang.”
    So I will continue and I disagree with your over-view.

    1. how does the Facebook page work!

      I again that if you want civil comments, require the posters identify themselves and be willing to stand behind their comments… several do, a few don’t an they are very caustic.

      1. I’m not doing that. Period. And I have explained my reasoning.
        Facebook commenting happens on the Facebook platform. Every story we post is shared to Facebook and that’s where the majority — the vast majority – of comments happen. You just have to “like” our Facebook page to comment.

  13. If you people put as much effort into the problems of this country as you do beating each other’s drum everyday we might get somewhere in this sh#t country. Transgender who cares, how about universal healthcare, how about tax breaks for working people instead of the top 1%, government that isn’t bought and paid for just to screw us…….

  14. Shereen, Just read the comments on Facebook for your Wausau Pilot & Review… it is equivalent to an open sewer… very insulting and raucous… you are complicit in foster this behavior Period.

      1. Shereen, don’t let Enk get under your skin. He has just realized thst he can not control the comment content and is upset about it.

        I would advise you not to turn off the comments as it is one of the main reasons I visit you site. Spdting the stories is only part of the process. The other part is hearing how your readers react to those stories.

        If Enk feels he is being abused, he should leave and seek a site more to his gentle disposition.

    1. Okay…I’m just going to say this. My business is to post stories about local issues. I offer the chance to comment on two platforms. One, where people can hide behind a pseudonym, for reasons I get and have repeatedly defended. The other, where people can share to social media – using their social media persona – and comment using their social profile. Free speech is free speech. I am not going to patrol either 24/7 because I have a life. I have a husband. I have children. I go to grad school. I have employees, but they’re not here 24/7 either. I refuse to spend my entire life patrolling people to ensure they are not insulting one another. Calling me complicit in fostering some kind of behavior that you don’t like is incredibly insulting. And frankly…I am tired of it.

  15. Let me say this, as someone who has a lot of experience with alternative news ventures. While the community of discussion is important, that community is centered primarily in this case on Facebook. No one is coming here to see me, or Call, or Enk comment. In fact, somepeople might avoid this website because I comment. Or others comment.

    I like commenting, but I can see that there will come a time when the publisher will have to consider the time and effort it takes to support commenting, and if that takes away from news gathering.

    I support shutting off of comments. Clearly the majority of commenters can be respectful, but one bad apple can in fact spoil the bunch.

    I appreciate your journalism. And I can find places online to post my opinion. I do not need you to let me do that here.

  16. OMG you guys are seriously asking for them to moderate this forum? Please grow up and let’s not be so sensitive. Grown adults can moderate themselves without tattling. How in the world can you handle real life if this gets you upset.

    I personally have not seen any name calling that has been over the top. Snowflake and disruptor in my opinion is pretty tame and that is the extent of what I have seen.

    get it together folks!

  17. Sites seem to attract trolls that get off on taking over a conversation. All righteous and condescending. Me, me, me. Alan Faser and John Enk come to mind. Just ignore them. Their lives depend on them getting under your skin. Don’t let them.

    1. Dino,

      I would lose all respect for your comments if you would suggest that. This entire far left agenda with youtube, twitter and facebook is getting out of hand and it sounds like you support that. Like you said you don’t want moderation but just to shut it down. Where does it end?

      We have hit a new bottom when we as adults can’t handle or ignore a troll. This board is actually pretty tame compared to whats on other sites. I know you can handle the trolls dino, but that suggestion is terrible

      1. Todd, As I articulated, Facebook is where the far larger comment amounts are taking place. I support Shereens journalism, and her spending time reviewing comments, or whatever here, takes away from her ability and time spent being a journalist. So, I am cool with commenting on facebook, and shutting this part of wordpress down.

        You should not make it political, because that has no merit. I block John on facebook, but cannot block him here, so I am forced to see him derail solid conversations. Which makes us look bad. And I do not want to look bad.

      2. tell me how that it has no merit to make it politcal? Once using the facebook forum we are under their rules. Which are very very far left. If facebook were to shut someones comments down Shereen has no recourse.

        And once again why would you have to block someone? Are we not adults? Just ignore “noise” as you would in real life. Don’t feed the trolls

  18. My desire to support shutting down the comments is not based on politics, but annoyance and traffic.

Comments are closed.