Illinois Human Rights Commission rules Springfield discriminated against trans employee

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Springfield, Illinois. Photo by Katherine Johnson/Used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
Springfield, Illinois. Photo by Katherine Johnson/Used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

The Illinois Human Rights Commission (IHRC) has ruled that the city of Springfield was discriminating when its health insurance denied a transgender woman’s gender-affirming care.

Kate Holt, who started working for the city in February 2020, sought coverage for medications for her gender dysphoria. According to the ACLU of Illinois, the city’s health insurance plan specifically denies coverage for “sex transformation and hormones related to such treatment.” She filed a complaing with the IHRC in November 2020. She no longer works for the city.

“I am glad that the Human Rights Commission has affirmed that my healthcare should not be denied because of my gender identity,” Holt said in a statement. “Transgender employees deserve the same protections as all other workers. The City of Springfield denied me coverage under its employee plan simply because of who I am. That was wrong.”

The ACLU said this is the first time that the IHRC has expressly confirmed that excluding gender-affirming care violates state civil rights laws.

“The Illinois Human Rights Act forbids discrimination based on gender identity—and the Commission’s decision makes clear that employers cannot adopt health-insurance plans that carve out important care for transgender employees,” said Josh Blecher-Cohen, a staff attorney at the ACLU of Illinois. “We are hopeful that the decision in Ms. Holt’s case will lead other employers across the state to reconsider their own discriminatory exclusions.”

The IHRC decision was unanimous.

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