While some Americans are struggling to afford basic healthcare and insurance, one Arizona professor is demanding a full gender reassignment — and suing her employer to get it.
According to Tucson.com, the transgender professor Russell B. Toomey is suing the University of Arizona to force the college to pay for her transition to become a “male.” Toomey’s lawyers say that the surgery is medically necessary, because Toomey, a biological woman, suffers from gender dysphoria. The school and administrators of Toomey’s health insurance disagree, considering the surgery to be a personal choice and cosmetic option, not one that is truly medically needed.
The University of Arizona is a public, state-funded school. So far, it has spent over $50,000 defending against the lawsuit. The left-wing American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) feels those funds could have been better spent on just giving Toomey what she wants.
“We wish that the state of Arizona would put its resources toward providing the medically necessary care for transgender employees rather than defending this discriminatory and unconstitutional exclusion,” ACLU attorney Molly Brizgys said.
The solution is not that simple for the University, though.
The state healthcare plan is not controlled by the University. The professor’s benefits come through state administrators, who denied the claim. The denial is in part due to the non-medical reasons behind the switch. Her surgery is not medically needed, according to the plan administrators. Were they to approve it, they would open the door for other, similar non-medical and cosmetic claims across the state.
“Defendants have previously urged ADOA (Arizona Department of Administration) to remove the types of coverage exclusions requested by Plaintiff in the Complaint, but ADOA has not eliminated all exclusions,” the university’s administration said.
The University of Arizona College Republicans group also weighed in.
“We believe that since it is not a medical necessity, the University shouldn’t need to include [the procedure] in its plan,” the student organization said. “It is one’s choice to go through with that procedure. We do not see it as unconstitutional, but it’s definitely not constitutional to force the University to pay because of one’s choice to go through with an optional procedure.”
The battle over Toomey’s reassignment surgery and the inclusion of non-medical or cosmetic treatments into the regular medical plan continues. Experts estimate that the college could continue to incur thousands in legal costs as the legal fight goes on. Since there is more at stake than just one individual, the fight could continue for months and eventually land in a higher court for an ultimate decision.