Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Berkeley City Council Votes for Transgender Equality
Council’s measure is first step towards eliminating discriminatory health insurance exclusions for city employees and retirees

May 8, 2007 San Francisco, CA – Last night the Berkeley City Council took an important step forward in improving the work environment for all city employees and retirees. By a unanimous vote, the Council directed Berkeley’s City Manager, Phil Kamlarz, to create a proposal for removing exclusions in their current health plan that deny coverage for medically necessary, transition related procedures. The motion, sponsored by Council members Kriss Worthington and Darryl Moore, could lead to changes that will make Berkeley a more competitive employer that better takes care of the health of all its employees.

“This vote makes me very proud of my hometown,” said TLC attorney and Berkeley-native, Ben Lunine. “The Council’s vote increases Berkeley’s reputation as a city and an employer that values inclusivity and equality. And, if improvements to the health plan follow, Berkeley will be a more attractive employer in the competitive Bay Area job market.”

Last night’s motion began as the idea of Berkeley city employee Lynn Riordan. “I was motivated by my desire to make sure that everyone who comes to work for this great city is treated fairly and equally,” said Riordan. “It feels wonderful to have an idea for lessening discrimination and to get so much support in making that idea a reality. After last night, we’re halfway there and I look forward to Mr. Kamlarz’s report in a month.”

“Creating health care equality is good for business,” said TLC Director Christopher Daley. “Other government employers and top corporations have found this to be true over the last decade. As Berkeley moves toward joining their ranks, they are proving themselves to be an employer who invests in the long-term health and vitality of the people who make the city such a great place to live.”

Transgender Law Center ( TLC is a civil rights organization advocating for transgender communities through direct legal services, education, community organizing, and policy and media advocacy. TLC receives support from the California Endowment, the California Wellness Foundation, and the Liberty Hill Foundation, among others, to increase access to health care throughout California.

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