A monumental policy change of University System of Georgia health insurance is now allowing transgender employees to complete gender-affirmation surgery.
The change in coverage came in response to a lawsuit filed by Skyler Jay, a University of Georgia employee, against USG and BlueCross BlueShield, his health insurance provider.
Jay, a former guest star from Netflix’s Queer Eye, filed his lawsuit in February after paying for his gender reassignment surgery and treatment. The procedure was not covered by USG health insurance at the time, which Jay and his legal team said was a form of sex- and gender-based discrimination, The Red & Black reported.
Specifically, Jay’s legal team from Transcend Legal alleged that the omission of treatment for gender dysphoria is a form of discrimination that violates the 14th Amendment because it treats a group of individuals differently based on their gender.
Gender dysphoria is a mental condition where a person’s physical gender is different from the one in which they identify. The condition can lead to feelings of severe stress, anxiety and depression.
The lawsuit was settled and the removal of trans coverage exclusions went into effect Sept. 1. Jay was also paid $100,000 in compensatory damages, which he told The Red & Black would be used to cover his surgery and treatment bills, legal fees and student debt.
The policy affects employees at all 26 schools within the University System of Georgia.
Though this is not the first case to allege discrimination against trans people, Jay’s lawsuit was the first to be filed against USG.
Jay’s lawyer, Noah Lewis of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, is familiar with these cases and is now representing Sheriff's Deputy Anna Lange as she sues the Houston County Board of Commissioners for refusing to allow her health insurance plan to cover her gender-affirmation surgery.