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Gender Reassignment Surgery and the Library’s Health Plan

by on July 21, 2017

In 2016, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County library employee Rachel Dovel planned to undergo gender reassignment surgery. When told the surgery was not covered by the library’s health insurer, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Dovel took the library board/insurance company to court.

In December 2016, Dovel took out a personal loan and went through with the surgery. Dovel also hired the law firm Gerhardstein & Branch along with the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Law Office of Scott Knox. “Employers across the country should take note that denying medically necessary care for transgender employees is unlawful,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights Transgender Youth Project Staff Attorney Asaf Orr.[1] Jennifer Branch, one of the lawyer’s representing Dovel, was optimistic that this lawsuit would validate how important it is to struggle for a resolution that will be unbiased and just for employees.

Shortly after this dispute went public, Anthem announced it would cover the gender reassignment surgery. Dovel had already paid for the surgery privately but considers the new insurance plan a triumph, as does the library. Human resources director at the library, Andrea Kaufman said, “We are glad Anthem ultimately added this coverage to our base plan and glad to have reached a happy resolution with our employee.” [2]

Under terms of the agreement, the library:

  • Changed its healthcare plan effective Jan. 1 to include transgender surgery and other medical care for transgender people
  • Agreed to listen to the recommendations of its employees about purchasing and offering LGBT-related materials and events
  • Will continue its practice of using gender-neutral employment forms and providing gender-neutral restrooms when feasible
  • Offer employees training on LGBT inclusion.


  1. Coolidge, Sharon. 2017. Cinicinnati.com. May 15. Accessed June 19, 2017. http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/politics/2017/05/15/library-settles-transgender-lawsuit-now-covers-transgender-surgery/101512662/.
  2. Ibid.

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