Post submitted by Torey Carrick, HRC Board of Governors
The first edition of the Municipal Equality Index (MEI) was released last Fall. I live in Long Beach, California and I was really pleased with the score of 100 points that Long Beach received – but I noticed though that despite our “perfect” score there were still points that Long Beach had left on the table. Because Long Beach is such an inclusive place I took this as a challenge and seized on the opportunity to improve our laws and policies to become even better.
The first step was to immediately identify the areas of the scorecard where we could most realistically make progress. One item that jumped out was trans-inclusive healthcare. The City of Long Beach did not offer healthcare benefits to city employees that were inclusive of gender-affirming care. Unfortunately, this is quite common - a large number of healthcare insurance providers exclude gender-affirming and transition-related care from their policies. An employer has to take active steps to make sure the policies offered to their employees are trans-inclusive.
In partnership with Porter Gilberg, Administrative Director of the Center Long Beach, and with assistance from the HRC MEI team and Masen Davis at the Transgender Law Center, we worked with Vice Mayor of Long Beach Robert Garcia to address this issue. We shared a lot of information with the Vice Mayor, City Manager Pat West, and the city’s HR department, and we worked closely with the city in the months that followed.
I am happy to report that as a result of this incredible teamwork that Long Beach has made arrangements with its healthcare provider to add transgender healthcare to its suite of benefits. These benefits are not available immediately but we have full city support and expect this will be rolling out in the near future.
It is important to me to live in a city that values its citizens for the whole of who they are. Long Beach is a leader in municipal equality, and I am proud to be part of this community. Thank you to all of the people at the city who helped make this change happen, namely Robert Garcia for championing this effort through the city process. It was essential to have as much contextual information as possible and this would have not occurred without Kate Oakley at HRC and Masen Davis at TLC. And an extra special thanks is owed to Porter Gilberg, who was a terrific partner on this project. None of this excellent work would have happened if not for his passion and commitment to full equality.
The MEI is a wonderful tool that really enabled us to make this change happen. I encourage other people to take the time to look through the scorecard and learn what the areas of opportunity are for your city. Creating more equal laws and policies is good for the LGBT community and great for our cities.
For more information about the Municipal Equality Index, click here. The next edition of the MEI will be released this Fall.