HSPRD Files Suit Challenging Denial of Gender-Affirming Healthcare

HSPRD Files Suit Challenging Denial of Gender-Affirming Healthcare

HSPRD attorneys Caryn C. Lederer, Tory Tilton, and Charlie Wysong filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of client Morgan Mesi to hold his former employer and union accountable for discriminating against him because he is a transgender man. Mesi’s employer-union health plan repeatedly denied him health insurance coverage for crucial gender-affirming healthcare, including hormone therapy and surgery, because of his gender identity. HSPRD is proud to represent and work alongside Mesi in his fight for justice for himself and for the right of trans people to access gender-affirming healthcare.

The medical community widely accepts the gender-affirming medical care that Mesi sought as medically necessary treatment for gender dysphoria. “Gender-affirming medical care is crucial and necessary. It has been shown to significantly lower rates of attempted suicide, depression, anxiety, and substance use,” said Lederer in a press conference at HSPRD announcing the lawsuit. As the American Medical Association has advised, “[e]very major medical association in the United States recognizes the medical necessity of transition-related care for improving the physical and mental health of transgender people.”

And yet, Mesi’s former employer and union repeatedly denied Mesi health insurance coverage for this life-saving treatment, labeling the surgery “cosmetic” and “elective,” even after Mesi provided extensive documentation from his medical providers that the surgery was medically necessary.

“This lawsuit is about my right to control my body free from discrimination,” Mesi said. “A board of trustees who has never met me should not be the ones deciding if my gender-affirming healthcare is medically necessary. That decision should be between me and my doctors.”

Mesi alleges the health plan’s denial violated federal and state laws that provide strong protections against discrimination for transgender and other LGBTQ individuals. As the suit alleges, the employer, the union, and the health plan had no basis to label critical gender-affirming healthcare merely “cosmetic” and refuse to pay for it. “When a health care plan categorically denies coverage of treatment because it is gender-affirming care, that violates the law,” said Lederer.

HSPRD is proud to enforce the federal and state legal protections that prohibit discrimination against the LGBTQIA+ community and will continue to fight for the LGBTQIA+ community’s right to live free from discrimination.

HSPRD filed the complaint, which is available here, in the Northern District of Illinois. It brings claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Illinois Human Rights Act.

Read the Chicago Sun-Times Coverage HERE

Read the Law 360 Coverage HERE

Watch the WGN9 Chicago News Report HERE

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