Portland City Council Unanimously Passes Transgender-Inclusive Healthcare Benefits for City of Portland Employees

Good news today from the Mayor’s office:

Today, Mayor Sam Adams, with the co-sponsorship of every member of Portland City Council, brought forward and unanimously passed transgender-inclusive healthcare for City of Portland employees.

The City of Portland values diversity, and strives to be an equitable and diverse employer. Adding transgender inclusive benefits truly recognizes the importance of all employees covered under the City’s health plan. The Mayor believes this action is about keeping and attracting the best and the brightest, in addition to being about basic fairness.

“To the trans community of Portland, who each and every day makes this city a better place, it is my honor and privilege to serve on a city council that can bring an ounce of fairness in return,” Mayor Adams said. All Commissioners offered passionate commentary. Commissioner Amanda Fritz said: “I appreciate living in a city and serving on a City Council where we look at what is the right thing to do…even though it may not be politically popular.”

The American Medical Association (AMA) has identified transgender health care as being medically necessary. In 2008, the AMA passed a resolution supporting public and private health insurance coverage for treatment of gender identity disorder and opposing the “exclusions of coverage for treatment of gender identity disorder when prescribed by a physician.” The City already provides coverage for all employees (including transgender employees) for prescription medications, office visits and mental health treatments and other benefits. To truly provide medically necessary benefits that meet the needs of the City’s transgender employees, this recommendation adds coverage for the services required to complete gender transition. Commissioner Nick Fish said: “This City does not discriminate; it does not make judgments about people’s status. I believe today is a leadership moment, with the mayor leading us effectively on this issue and I am proud, as a member of this community, to vote aye.”

Today’s vote makes Portland the third jurisdiction with transgender-inclusive benefits for public employees, joining Multnomah County and San Francisco. The City of Seattle is currently considering the adoption of similar benefits. Currently, 22 percent of Fortune 100 Companies as well as many Oregon businesses—large and small—offer inclusive health care to all employees, including healthcare for transgender employees. Commissioner Dan Saltzman said: “To let every person in the City live a happy and productive life: you can’t ask for more and you can’t aspire to any higher goal as a public servant. This is going to be one of my proudest legacies: helping people to live as who they are in all aspects. This is a small price to pay to help people live better lives.”

The cost projection for adding coverage for sexual reassignment surgery is $32,302 out of a total $41,615,000 CityCore Cost Projection for 2011-12, a .08 percent increase.  Adding this coverage is appropriate at this time and does not add a significant cost to the plan; other jurisdictions have found that once added, the true cost of this coverage is negligible. Commissioner Randy Leonard said: “At the end of the day, when people provide me with facts and figures, it doesn’t override what my heart tells me…aye.”

This action reaffirms the City’s commitment to the importance of being an equitable and inclusive employer.

6 comments to Portland City Council Unanimously Passes Transgender-Inclusive Healthcare Benefits for City of Portland Employees

  • Lesley Denise Renfrow via Facebook


  • Portland does it right at last! Yippee!

  • this is pretty exciting stuff. I’m especially interested in seeing the mainstream and queer media responses from across the country…and also to see how this impacts the lives of Portlanders…-Perry Eising

  • SunKissAngel

    This is really great, good for them, I am even more proud to live in Portland and be part of the TG community! I suggest the use Satori World Medical, that’s who I used for my SRS and had an excellent experience, they truly care and I went to an amazing surgeon. I think they work with companies and City’s too check them out

  • Carol Loomis

    My congratulations! What a wise decision!

  • Miss Nikki

    This is overwhelmingly good news,much-needed powerful stuff when decisions, polls, bills and amendments periodically swing from pro–trans rights and thinking to anti-trans rights and thinking. It makes me proud to be a trans in a state that is one of the first to recognize trans for what they are…people.