Creep of the Week: Health Insurance Companies

By |2015-05-14T09:00:00-04:00May 14th, 2015|Creep of the Week, Opinions|

We all know that men can get breast cancer. It’s more common in women, but it can and does happen.
Thankfully, we live in the United States of Gender Equality, where everyone is totally cool with issues of sex, and gender identity isn’t some rigid thing no one dare deviate from unless they want to be ridiculed and alienated for the rest of their lives. Plus no one believes that physical bodies are always either 100 percent male or 100 percent female — no variation ever.
So if someone who identifies as male needs to be screened for cervical cancer because he has a cervix, no one would dream of denying him that service just because, duh, males don’t have cervixes/how can that even be possible/what? ick/brain explodes/next, please?
Ha ha. Just kidding. America is full of small-minded, hateful people and our laws often reflect that fact.
And so it was that insurance companies have denied coverage for things like “pap smears for dudes” simply because the patient’s driver’s license said “male,” or “prostate exams for gals” just because the patient’s driver’s license said “female.”
Granted, what it means to be transgender is very unclear to the general public, in part because we “know” what it means to be female or male (or at least we think we know. We don’t. We just prescribe a bunch of sexist expectations about appearance and behavior and call it a day) and we “know” that you’re born that way (again, we don’t know shit, but we believe what we’ve been taught since an either/or binary is a lot easier to navigate and understand than a fluid continuum).
In other words, a lot of Americans understand what transgender means based on reading headlines about Bruce Jenner on the cover of the National Enquirer in the supermarket checkout.
But that’s not the whole story (duh). We live in a world where people identify as male, yet still have a vagina and cervix. We have people who identify as male who have had what is commonly known as sex-reassignment surgery. And neither person is less male than the other, unless, of course, we are sticking to narrow definitions that help no one navigate life as a human being.
The thing is, both of these men need and should have access to preventative care and insurance companies shouldn’t have the power to tell them, “You’ve to choose between insurance coverage and a gender identity that makes sense for you. You can’t have both.”
Thankfully the Obama administration has stepped in to tell insurance companies, “Oh no you better don’t” and make clear that everyone gets preventative care deemed necessary by a medical professional. No more discrimination against transgender people.
This is a super important thing.
The Human Rights Campaign’s David C. Stacy spoke to the New York Times about the implications of this clarification. “A transgender man who has a need for breast cancer screening would be assured of getting that screening,” he said. “A person who has transitioned from female to male may still have a high risk of breast cancer.”
And it should be doctors who make that determination, not some insurance adjuster sitting in an office somewhere checking a box on an insurance claim form that reads, “Nope. Die.”
Now I realize that naming “health insurance companies” as this week’s Creep is really broad. And probably not all companies are guilty of this. But enough are. So if you’re an insurance company and I hurt your feelings, just remember that you make money off of denying people the basic need of health care. So fuck off.

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