- December 12, 2014
Post submitted by Maureen McCarty, former HRC Deputy Director of Marketing
The Austin City Council has made history as the first city in Texas to pass transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits for city employees.
Under the resolution, which passed unanimously Thursday night, the city’s health benefits plan will now include hormone therapy, mental health care and surgical care. The council also approved the recommended change to city code to require gender-neutral signage for single occupancy bathrooms. HRC's Austin Steering Committee worked in partnership with other LGBT groups to encourage the City Council to adopt these policies.
Across the country cities like Austin are leading the way to LGBT inclusion, even in states where equality remains elusive. Forty-two cities – 12 percent of cities rated in the 2014 Municipal Equality Index (MEI)– are offering transgender- inclusive health care options to city employees. This is an increase from 16 cities in 2013, which was up from five cities in 2012. Of the cities the 2012 MEI rated, there has been a fivefold increase with 25 of those cities – 18 percent of cities rated in that edition – now offering transgender-inclusive benefits.
The MEI examines the laws, policies, and services of municipalities and rates them on the basis of their inclusivity of LGBT people who live and work there.
This year's report includes a feature on why transgender-inclusive benefits are important and why so many cities and companies are acting to ensure their employee health benefits are inclusive of gender affirming care.