On May 7, 2015, FCPS added “Gender Identity” to its non-discrimination policy, protecting both transgender students and employees and applicants.
The short answer is that FCPS employees can employ the assistance and cooperation of the Office of Equity and Employee Relations (EER) of the Department of Human Relations for FCPS (the office that concerns itself with non-discrimination, complaints of discrimination, and medical and religious accommodations). EER suggests that employees going through a transition contact them before they speak to their Program Manager (or Principal). Then they will work with the Program Manager to help the employee, with the degree of privacy or communication that that employee requests.
Here’s what EER has to say:
“FCPS will be treating each employee who is transitioning as an individual matter as no two situations are identical. The Office of Equity and Employee Relations (EER), will assist employees through an interactive process to determine the most appropriate steps to take. All concerns will be treated with confidentiality as the best accommodation is made for each individual. EER can be reached at 571-423-3070.”
When you call they will ask you at which school or in what program you work, and then direct you to the one (out of ten) specialists assigned to that school or program (FCPS being as large as it is, it needs to divide the system up. These specialists are separate from those that work on our employment applications and our re-certifications.
Please note: all of the three FCPS health insurance plans specifically exclude coverage of treatments to change gender, excluding specifically surgery and doctor’s visits, although some hormones may be available under other areas of coverage.
We had a meeting with the Department of Benefits Services in early November 2015 to discuss this. The first news is that FCPS is not prohibited from insuring transition-related medical care by the Commonwealth of Virginia. The school system is investigating whether it wants to or should include such coverage.
The county says its goals in coverage is “Quality, Comprehensive and Competitive.” Among their considerations are the cost of coverage, whether neighboring school systems (DC, Montgomery, PG, Loudoun, Prince William and Baltimore) include coverage, whether school systems across the country similar to Fairfax (Los Angeles, St. Louis, Clark County Nevada, Houston) include coverage, the impact different types of coverage would have on members lives, the number of people who would be impacted, and what kinds of packages are available from insurance companies
They emphasized that the market is evolving and changing, and they are researching what is out there.
They spoke of two levels of coverage, which are more and less likely to be included, which they referred to as “need to have” and “nice to have.”
The former, which are more likely to be included, include primary and transition doctor visits, some therapy, hormones, and what are commonly known as “top” and “bottom” surgery. They emphasized that there are likely to be some differences for trans men and trans women.
The latter tier of levels of coverage, which are less likely to be covered, include facial surgery, liposuction, electrolysis, and breast augmentation. The basic reason given for this is that it would need to be extended to the general population, and would thus be expensive.
None of this is available for the current open enrollment for coverage beginning January 2016. I left the meeting with the impression that the first tier might be available for open enrollment next fall, and that it is more likely for the year following.
Their suggestion for what we as an organization can do, rather than appealing to people within Benefits Services, that we focus on influencing political and executive leaders. They said they may reach out to FCPS Pride later for information on what kind of impact coverage would have on the lives of people involved. Another suggestion is to work with delegates and state senators to achieve a state-level mandate (personally, I think in the current political climate in Virginia this is unlikely).
I assume the same levels of coverage would apply to dependents on our healthcare.
Feel free to share concerns, thoughts, experiences (being careful not to mention staff members by name) in the comments section on this page.
If you’d like to discuss in detail, send Robert an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can set up a time to talk.