Starbucks have recently announced their health care plan will cover surgeries and procedures for trans staff which up until now had been considered ‘cosmetic’ and did not fall under the plan.
Since 2012, Starbucks have paid for gender reassignment surgeries, (or ‘bottom surgeries’ as they are referred to) for their staff. This new announcement means their healthcare plan will now include ‘top surgeries’ – breast reduction or augmentation, facial feminisation surgeries, hair transplants and voice therapy.
Ron Crawford, vice president of benefits at Starbucks spoke of the company’s decision, “The approach was driven not just by the company’s desire to provide truly inclusive coverage, but by powerful conversations with transgender partners about how those benefits would allow them to truly be who they are”.
The company looked for advice from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), in translating WPATH’s recommended standards of care into a medical benefits policy. WPATH’s Jason Green spoke about the contact, stating “Starbucks was not afraid to ask all the right questions and demand that people get the best possible care. We produced a list of the most crucial benefits and those that are deemed problematic to insurance companies, such as facial feminization and electrolysis.”
Crawford continued, “It’s simply the right thing to do. I view this as a diagnosis with a treatment path. You have to think of it from an equity perspective.”
In a video released in tandem with the announcement, Starbucks employee, Tate Buhrmester, says “When I think back on my transition I don’t think that I would have felt as comfortable coming out in a different workplace.”
He continues, “If other companies adopted the policies Starbucks had around trans healthcare – like the most basic thing is it just makes trans people feel like they are people, like they matter, their health care matters.”
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