Beginning October 1, 2014, Oregon will become the first state in the nation to offer medically necessary transition-related care to transgender youth covered under Medicaid.
On January 11, Portland-based TransActive Education & Advocacy announced that the Oregon Health Plan and its Healthy Kids Program will cover transition-related care for young people experiencing gender dysphoria, reports PQ Monthly.
According to PQ, services covered by the new health care plan will include not only mental health counseling and pediatric evaluation, but also medication, procedures, and follow-up care related to the suppression of puberty, which advocates say can often help trans youth avoid traumatic pubescent experiences that arise from a body that develops in conflict to the youth's gender identity.
"Pubertal suppression provides transgender adolescents the option of avoiding unwanted, irreversible, and deeply distressing changes that come with birth-sex pubertal development," said TransActive executive director Jenn Burleton in a statement. "Far too often trans adolescents experience increased suicidal ideation as a result of these changes and the indifference of others about the impact these changes have on trans youth."
Burleton noted that while such treatments are effective, they can also be prohibitively expensive. Out-of-pocket costs can reach $1,000 a month, putting the lifesaving treatment out of reach of many Oregon families, reports PQ.
The new policy requires a comprehensive mental health evaluation and recommends ongoing psychological care for the gender-variant youth.
Read more about this first-of-its kind policy here.
Photo via Erin Rook for PQ Monthly.