Employee calls on public library to cover gender confirmation surgery

Employee calls on public library to cover gender confirmation surgery

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - A local employee is at the center of a debate between the Hamilton County Public Library and LGBTQ activists in Cincinnati.

Rachel Dovel, a 10-year employee at the Cincinnati Public Library, legally changed her name from Nathan and came out as a transgender woman in February 2015. Just a few months later, Dovel learned her employee insurance would not cover gender confirmation surgery.

The insurance company cleared the roadblock, but the library's Board of Trustees still voted against covering the surgery, Dovel's attorney said at a press conference Tuesday.

Attorney Josh Langdon, Councilmember Chris Seelbach and Dovel joined local LGBTQ activists outside the downtown library to call on the board of trustees to approve what they called a 'medically necessary surgery.'

"I think we would all think it's pretty absurd to stand up here and talk about how someone was being denied treatment for a sinus infection or anything like that," said Callie Wright of Heartland Trans Wellness Group. "These medical professionals have deemed that this transition-related care is as medically necessary as any other."

Dovel has already filed a gender discrimination claim with the state.

A spokesperson for the library claims board members only recently received information from the insurance company in regards to Dovel's medical needs. The board will revisit the issue in June.

While Dovel hopes the board reconsiders, she said filing a federal lawsuit is not out of the question.

Such a case would be unprecedented, Langdon says. It would be the first federal suit in which an employee sues an employer over its refusal to offer gender confirmation surgery.

"Transition is already a hard enough process and having to also fight bureaucratically, for something that I've already been fighting emotionally and physically for, is, that's a heavy load" Dovel said at the press conference Tuesday.

Cincinnati was the first Ohio city to cover transgender-related care under the city's health insurance. Other local companies, including Macy's and Kroger, also provide transgender medical care.

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