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Public library will not cover transgender employees' gender confirmation surgery

Posted: 6:34 PM, Jun 14, 2016
Updated: 2016-06-14 18:47:37-04

CINCINNATI — Despite passionate pleas from members of the public, library employees and even City Councilman Chris Seelbach, the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County's board of trustees unanimously voted Tuesday to exclude gender confirmation surgery from insurance coverage for library employees.

Rachel Dovel, who has worked for the library system for 10 years and hoped she would be able to have her gender confirmation surgery covered, broke down in tears. 

"They claim this is a business decision — that they have to be good stewards of the public trust," Dovel said. "And they have let down that trust."

Many other employers, including Kroger, Macy's and Wells Fargo, have opted to include gender confirmation surgery for transgender employees in their list of coverable medical procedures; Dovel's insurance company, Anthem, even allows for that coverage. The largest barrier at this point is the library board's decision, which one staffer said was meant to prevent other employees from asking for additional changes to the policy.

"This doesn't seem like the kind of decision that should be made by a library board," said Chris Seelbach.

Dovel was greeted after the meeting by friends and supporters who hugged her as she cried.