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We asked nicely. Now we're suing.

 
Skyler Musgrove
 

Transcend Legal has filed a federal lawsuit against the University System of Georgia on behalf of Skyler Musgrove, a University of Georgia employee who was forced to pay out of pocket for top surgery because the statewide university health plan excludes trans-related surgeries.

This marks the first time we've had to sue an employer to get them to change their plan.

If you've seen episode 5 of the new Queer Eye series on Netflix, then you've already met Skyler. His episode opens with the Fab 5 watching a video of Skyler undergoing top surgery. We later learn that his community helped him raise $8,000 to pay for it. We also learn that he works in events management at the University of Georgia (which is why he needs some boring professional clothing!).

What the show did not reveal, however, was the reason why Skyler needed to have a surgery fundraiser in the first place: the University of Georgia excludes coverage for gender reassignment surgery in its self-funded employee health plans. But for this “sex change” exclusion, the surgery would have been covered. That’s because Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia, which administers the plan, recognizes that treating gender dysphoria is medically necessary.

It was November when we first began writing to the University of Georgia and the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. We asked them several times to remove the exclusion. The health plan covers not just University of Georgia employees, but employees of all 28 state university institutions throughout Georgia.

They declined.

In February, we filed a charge with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which issued a right-to-sue letter.

And now we've filed a lawsuit along with co-counsel Amanda Farahany and Anton Sorkin of Barrett & Farahany LLP, based in Atlanta, Georgia.

Skyler is a nearly-lifelong resident of Georgia with deep roots in the state. He began attending the University of Georgia as an undergrad in 2008. During his time there, he came out as male. But he was unable to focus on his studies and took two medical leaves of absence.

“A decade of binding my chest had wreaked havoc on my body, so not only was I in deep mental and emotional pain, but also in serious physical pain,” Skyler recalls. “The pain of dysphoria was always present in my mind, and it made it difficult to focus on anything else.”

In 2012, he withdrew from school just three courses shy of his degree. Now after surgery, he is taking the remaining courses—on top of his full-time job. He is set to graduate in August!

Skyler could have just held a surgery fundraiser and moved on with his life.

Instead, he has chosen to stand up for himself and call upon the University and his state to do the right thing and provide equal health benefits for equal work.

 

Support Skyler's case

 

Did you know it costs $400 just to file a lawsuit? Expenses add up quickly, and we want to be fully prepared to be able to challenge this unfair policy. Your donation will help prevent trans people from going without health care by helping us to establish legal precedent saying that excluding transgender health care is unfair discrimination.

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