Wisconsin Must Pay for Transitional Surgeries of Two Transgender Medicaid Recipients, Federal Judge Rules

July 27, 2018, 12:43 AM UTC

A federal judge has ordered the state of Wisconsin to pay for the gender reassignment surgeries of two transgender Medicaid recipients, according to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report.

Cody Flack, 30, and Sara Ann Makenzie, 41, filed a lawsuit in April arguing that the state law preventing coverage for gender reassignment surgery—first adopted in 1996—violated the Affordable Care Act and their rights to equal protection. U.S. District Judge William Conley granted a preliminary injunction Wednesday, effectively blocking enforcement of the rule. He said he may expand the injunction to support any transgender Medicaid patient whose surgery is recommended by their doctor, according to an Associated Press report.

“The likelihood of ongoing, irreparable harm facing these two individual plaintiffs outweighs any marginal impacts on the defendants’ stated concerns regarding public health or limiting costs,” Conley said.

Flack, who first identified as a boy at the age of five, could receive his surgery for breast removal in as little as two weeks. Makenzie, who first publicly identified as a woman in 2012, may have to wait longer due to paperwork. Both are disabled and rely on Supplemental Security Income, making personal payments for the surgeries difficult. Makenzie had already taken out a $5,000 loan to afford breast implants, but is seeking genital reconstruction surgery.

Wisconsin is one of ten states that denies coverage for transitional surgeries, according to the Movement Advancement Project. Nineteen have policies that cover the surgery, while the remaining states don’t explicitly state either way.

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