Apparently, Germany is rather progressive when it comes to healthcare coverage for transsexual plastic surgery. In a recent ruling, a German federal court declared that male-to-female transsexuals have a legal right to have breast augmentation covered by health insurance when hormone therapy fails to provide a feminine breast shape.
According to the court, “Transsexual insurance policy holders can make a claim to treatment measures to allow them to adapt their gender, including surgical procedures on healthy organs to minimize their psychological suffering, so as to approach the appearance of the other sex that is desired.”
More specifically, breast augmentation is covered under insurance if measures such as hormone therapy fail to produce breasts that reach the size of a bra’s A-cup. These procedures are deemed justified even in cases where the patient has not yet undergone a sex change operation.
The Specifics of the Case
There are two recent cases in which the German courts ruled in favor of the transsexual’s right to have breast augmentation covered.
The first case involved a 62-year-old whose health insurance paid for hormone treatment and a sex change operation, but declined to cover breast augmentation after the transsexual’s breasts failed to reach acceptable female proportions (in other words, an A-cup).
The second case involved a transsexual patient whose health insurance paid for hormone treatments, plastic surgery to make the face more feminine-looking, and two operations to achieve a more womanly voice. The insurance company had also agreed to cover the sex change operation, which has not yet been performed. However, the insurance company denied coverage for breast augmentation, claiming that hormonal changes caused by the sex change operation can potentially lead to breast growth.
In both cases, the court ruled in favor of the transsexual patient, saying that only when the patient’s breasts “completely fill” an A-cup will they be considered to have reached an “undoubtedly gender-specific range.”
Score one for German transsexual rights.
A Different Healthcare Climate
I can’t help but wonder how this kind of a case would play out in the United States. My gut tells me these cases wouldn’t even reach trial here, considering how difficult it is for us to get basic healthcare reform passed. I’m pretty sure our legal and political system would consider covering transsexual breast augmentation under insurance to be an abomination that violates “the American way.”
And that is before we even factor in the way the rather sizable conservative contingency in America views transsexuals in general – which is to say, not very highly.
For those people who like to blindly insist that America is the best country in the world, this should serve as one example where at the very least, we are nowhere near the most progressive. I’m not saying that “most progressive” necessarily equals “best,” but in this case it certainly advocates for more of a pro-human rights stance. And in my opinion, anytime you are standing on the side of advocating for the human rights of others, your actions should be commended and emulated.