Coalition approaches Peoria County Board on gender-affirming care for county employees

Members of the Peoria LGBTQ community address the Peoria County Board about including gender-affirming care in their employee health plan. Photo provided by Peoria Proud

A coalition of LGBTQ and social justice organizations spoke to the Peoria County Board about updating their employee health insurance to cover gender-affirming care.

The current health insurance, Live Well Peoria County Employee Wellness Qualified High Deductible Health Plan, does not cover gender-affirming care for employees or their dependents.

“Access to gender affirming healthcare is a basic human right, and as a County Board, they should know that their current healthcare plan negatively affects at least one of their employees,” said Cassie Lucchesi, president of Peoria Proud. “We are hopeful that, with the help of Andre Allen, the County’s first Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, the Peoria County Board will be able to educate themselves on why this is important and, in doing so, act accordingly.”

Joining Peoria Proud in speaking to the board were local organizations such as PFLAG Peoria, Peorians for Black Liberties, Change Peoria and the Peoria Transgender Society as well as the statewide Equality Illinois.

While the employee health plan wasn’t on the meeting agenda, coalition representatives were able to express community concerns. But overall the meeting was good.

“We (Peoria Proud) felt confident walking into Thursday night’s Peoria County Board meeting, knowing that we and our partners are representing real people who are affected by the County’s healthcare plan,” Lucchesi said.

Gender-affirming care has become a growing issue as many of Illinois’ neighboring states are considering or have passed laws restricting access for transgender youth. Illinois this year passed a law making the state a refuge for healthcare providers providing the care and those needing it. The state is also considering a bill that would require insurance plans in Illinois to cover gender-affirming care.

“Gender affirming healthcare saves lives and we hope that they will prioritize the health and well-being of their employees and their dependents,” Lucchesi said.