Starbucks expands health benefits for transgender employees


Starbucks, which has covered gender-reassignment surgery as part of its staff health plans since 2012, announced today it has expanded its benefits for transgender employees to include a variety of previously uncovered procedures that had once been considered cosmetic.

Those newly covered benefits include breast reduction or augmentation surgery, facial feminization, hair transplants, electrolysis, voice therapy and more. Starbucks Transgender Medical Benefits run some six pages of covered services, and there is no lifetime cap for the benefits.

“I view this is as a diagnosis with a treatment path,” Ron Crawford, Starbucks’ vice president of benefits, said in a statement. “You have to think of it from an equity perspective.”

In 2015, Starbucks announced that its employees could select a name other than their given one for use at work. The chain also employs transgender advocates who are trained to work with employees to help them find healthcare providers and ensure that claims are covered.

Starbucks officials spoke with transgender staff as well as experts at the World Professional Association for Transgender Health for guidance when crafting the new benefits package, the company said.

Some 41% of the 6,500 transgender adults surveyed by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in 2014 said they had attempted suicide previously, compared to less than 5% of the overall population who said the same. A high number of those suicide attempts are likely due to the stress of finding and affording appropriate healthcare, the report found.

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