Pitt expands health care coverage for transgender faculty and staff

By Alexa Bakalarski / Senior Staff Writer

Beginning this year, Pitt will — for the first time — provide coverage for faculty and staff members’ transgender-related healthcare services.

Pitt announced the change in a three-page long letter the University’s Office of Human Resources sent to faculty and staff last week. The letter detailed expanded healthcare coverage — effective Aug.15 — that includes behavioral health support, hormone medications and gender reassignment surgery.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor updated a 1965 order prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in employment practices. Since Pitt is a state-related institution, the added coverage will bring the university benefit plan into compliance with that order.

According to a Department of Labor ruling, the update — which included gender identity and transgender status in its interpretation of sex discrimination — renewed the regulations for the first time in more than 40 years.

A Q&A that accompanied the letter — signed by John Kozar, the assistant vice chancellor of Human Resources — said there is not yet “comprehensive data” to say whether the expanded coverage will raise the cost of a faculty member or employee’s monthly medical premium. This is unclear, the attachment said, because so few organizations, including universities, offered the coverage before and so few people used it.

Pitt’s policies regarding transgender students, faculty and staff have fluctuated in recent years.

In March, the University announced it had settled a 2013 lawsuit with former student Seamus Johnston, a transgender man who was expelled in 2012 for using a locker room that didn’t match his University “gender status.”

When Pitt announced the settlement, it also announced that it would form a working group of students, faculty and staff to create a set of best practices for transgender individuals.

Ruskin Hall is opening this school year as Pitt’s first gender neutral dormitory and the university has reaffirmed its policy that students should use whichever restroom matches their gender identity.

Read the letter here:

Changes to health care coverage for faculty and staff

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