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Leaders: Library should pay for transgender care

Posted: 8:48 AM, Apr 12, 2016
Updated: 2016-04-12 16:29:41Z

CINCINNATI -- Local LGBT leaders and City Councilmember Chris Seelbach rallied to support a transgender woman looking for her employer, the public library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, to cover gender confirmation surgery Tuesday morning.

The library's board of trustees has refused to provide insurance coverage for gender confirmation surgery to Rachel Dovel, a transgender woman employed for 10 years by the library, according to attorney Joshua Langdon of Scott E. Knox Attorneys at Law. 

Dovel changed her name to Rachel from Nathan about a year ago. Her insurance company Anthem only recently began offering coverage for gender confirmation surgery, but she said the library has not added that extra coverage for its employees.

Dovel's lawyers have filed a discrimination claim against the library and say they may file a lawsuit, which they say would be the first of its kind. Dovel said she doesn't want to make history - she just wants the library to cover her surgery. 

"I’ve worked for the library a long time," Dovel said. "I’ve paid into the system a long time. It’s frustrating all of that doesn’t add up to getting the health care that I need.

At a trustees meeting Tuesday morning, a vote was tabled on the issue because only four of seven board members were present.

Seelbach and Langdon appeared Tuesday morning at the main branch library entrance on Eighth and Walnut streets to formally request that the board provide medical care for Dovel. They were joined by community leaders, including Callie Wright of Heartland Trans Wellness Group, Maurice Eckstein of the Human Rights Campaign and local transgender rights activist Paula Ison.

Langdon said area employers such as Kroger, Macy's and the city of Cincinnati have led the way in providing transgender-inclusive benefits to employees.