Summit County government moves to protect transgender employees
The Summit Board of County Commissioners approved a set of personnel policies, practices and guidelines on Tuesday to strengthen existing protections against discrimination for transgender employees. The county will also soon implement transgender-inclusive health-insurance coverage, which will be available to assist with the gender-transition process.
“Transgender people experience grossly disproportionate levels of violence, harassment and discrimination,” Summit County Commissioner Thomas Davidson said in a statement. “We are making it clear that Summit County government won’t be complicit in or silent about these injustices. We want transgender people — and our entire community — to know that Summit County is a safe and supportive place to work.”
Many transgender people are prescribed hormones by their doctors to change their physical bodies to align with their gender identity. Some transgender people also undergo surgery.
Summit County has added “gender identity” and “gender expression” to its equal-employment-opportunity and anti-harassment guidelines, thereby explicitly prohibiting workplace discrimination and harassment on the basis of gender identity or expression. Summit County already has prohibitions in place against harassment and discrimination on the basis of sex, race, religion, age, sexual orientation and other factors.
Commissioners also endorsed the implementation of transgender-inclusive health-insurance coverage, meaning that the medical treatments and services associated with gender transition will be covered by Summit County’s health plan. These services will be subject to the same provisions (deductibles and co-insurance) as all other covered services.
“We believe that our health plan should fairly and equitably address the medical needs of all our employees,” Davidson said in a statement. “Decisions about treatments that address gender dysphoria belong in the hands of doctors and their patients, not employers or insurance companies. A person’s ability to take charge of his or her own health and wellness, in consultation with a physician, is essential to living a life of dignity.”
The transgender-inclusive elements of the Summit County employee health plan are scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2016.
Human-resources staff will support transitioning employees through steps related to restroom facilities, uniforms and gender documentation. The department will also work with the employee’s coworkers to ensure they are using the employee’s preferred name and pronouns.
“We’re committed to supporting transgender employees who make the courageous decision to begin living openly as their true gender,” Summit County human resources manager Molly Boyd said in a statement. “We’ll work together to create a thoughtful plan to address workplace concerns that arise before, during and after the full process of transitioning.”
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