Summit County Government

Posted on: December 8, 2015

Summit County Incorporates Gender Identity Into Personnel Policies

Board of County Commissioners approves policies and practices that protect transgender employees from discrimination and establish transgender-inclusive health coverage

Contacts:
Thomas Davidson, Summit County Commissioner
970-333-9817, thomas.davidson@summitcountyco.gov
Molly Boyd, Summit County Human Resources Manager
970-453-3459, molly.boyd@summitcountyco.gov

SUMMIT COUNTY – The Summit Board of County Commissioners has approved a set of personnel policies, practices and guidelines that 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. “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.”

A transgender person is someone whose sex at birth doesn’t align with who they know they are on the inside. 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.

The Board of County 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 (e.g., deductibles and co-insurance) that all other covered services are subject to.

“We believe that our health plan should fairly and equitably address the medical needs of all our employees,” Davidson said. “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.”

Since 2008, the American Medical Association has supported public and private health insurance coverage for the treatment of gender dysphoria (previously referred to as gender identity disorder), as recommended by a patient’s physician. The American Psychiatric Association advocates for the removal of barriers to care and supports public and private health insurance coverage for gender transition treatment. The transgender-inclusive elements of the Summit County employee health plan are scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2016.

The Summit County Human Resources Department will assist transgender employees who transition while they are employed by the County, regardless of whether their transitions include medical treatments. 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. “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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