SAN FRANCISCO – San Francisco is preparing to become the first U.S. city to provide and cover the cost of sex reassignment surgeries for uninsured transgender residents.
The city’s Health Commission voted Tuesday to create a comprehensive program for treating transgender people experiencing mental distress because of the mismatch between their bodies and their gender identities. San Francisco already provides transgender residents with hormones, counseling and routine health services, but has stopped short of offering surgical interventions, Public Health Director Barbara Garcia said Thursday after the vote was announced.
The idea for a new program that included surgeries came out of conversations between public health officials and transgender rights advocates.
At the urging of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and the San Francisco-based Transgender Law Center, the commission agreed this week to drop sex reassignment surgery from the list of procedures specifically excluded from the Healthy San Francisco plan.
But Garcia described the move as “a symbolic process” for now because the city currently does not have the expertise, capacity or protocols in place to provide the surgeries through its clinics and public hospital.