Lambda Legal sues state of Oregon to defend health care rights of transgender man

M. Drew Levasseur - Transgender rights attorney working on the suit

This morning Lambda Legal filed suit against the state of Oregon on behalf of transgender employee Alec Esquivel, who was denied a hysterectomy that was deemed medically necessary by his doctor.

“Alec Esquivel was denied coverage for a medically necessary procedure specifically because he is transgender. This type of discrimination is unlawful and risks the health of hardworking, productive citizens of Oregon,” said Dru Levasseur, Transgender Rights Attorney at Lambda Legal. “By not covering this procedure, the state is refusing to provide him with the same health care coverage as his co-workers.”

Alec Esquivel is a 41-year-old law school graduate who is clerking for the Oregon Court of Appeals. Assigned female sex at birth, he was diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder (GID) in 2001 and began to take steps to have his body match his male gender identity. In 2010, as part of his transition-related health plan, Esquivel’s doctor recommended that he undergo a hysterectomy as part of his GID treatment and because he was at heightened risk for uterine and ovarian cancer. Esquivel’s doctor then submitted a request for insurance coverage. On June 21, 2010, Esquivel was denied coverage based on the plan’s categorical exclusion of transition-related health care. This morning, Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit against the state of Oregon and the Public Employees’ Benefit Board arguing that Oregon’s antidiscrimination law prohibits an employer from denying insurance coverage on the basis of gender identity.

Dru Levasseur, Transgender Rights Staff Attorney, and Tara Borelli, both with Lambda Legal, are seeking admission pro hac vice to participate in the case along with Oregon attorneys Stefan Johnson (also with Lambda Legal) and Jennifer Middleton of Middleton & Lee PC, based in Eugene, Oregon.

You can read the summary and history of Esquivel vs. Oregon, along with the complaint at the Lambda Legal website.

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