A federal judge ruled Tuesday that West Virginia's Medicaid program is required to cover transgender surgeries for in-state residents, the Washington Examiner reported.
District Judge Chuck Chambers ruled in favor of a class-action lawsuit filed by the civil rights organization Lambda Legal on behalf of 600 West Virginia residents who were denied Medicaid coverage for hormone prescriptions and gender reassignment surgeries by the state's health department.
"It is undisputed that the criteria determining whether or not such treatment is covered under the Medicaid Program hinges on a diagnosis," Chambers wrote. "But when treatment is precluded for a diagnosis based on one's gender identity, such exclusion invidiously discriminates on the basis of sex and transgender status."
Specifically, Chambers argued that the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources' exclusion of low-income residents with gender dysphoria from Medicaid services violated the 14th Amendment, the Affordable Care Act and the Medicaid Act.
The judge also cited the Supreme Court's 2020 Bostock v. Clayton County ruling, where justices determined that employers cannot discriminate against transgender employees, writing that "one cannot consider the term 'transgender' without considering sex."
The decision, which state prosecutors will likely appeal, comes as Republican-led states begin to clamp down on transgender surgeries and hormone replacement therapies, especially for minors.
Earlier this year, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered his Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate doctors performing gender reassignment surgeries as child abuse cases after an opinion by state Attorney General Ken Paxton.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren on Thursday for refusing to enforce a potential ban on transgender surgeries or the state's new 15-week abortion law.
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