SEIU passes resolution calling for transgender-inclusive health insurance coverage
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), one of our strong allies in the fight for justice for working LGBTQ people and our families, is currently hosting its 25th International Convention in Denver, Colo. Member-delegates, representing 2.1 million union members in Canada, Puerto Rico, and the United States, voted yesterday in Denver to pass a resolution that calls for union locals to bargain for public and private health insurance coverage that is transgender-inclusive. The resolution was passed with no resistance by members on the floor. For some attendees this was reminiscent of the 23rd International Convention when member-delegates voted to formally endorse the freedom to marry with strong support on the floor.
The passage of this resolution is a critical step forward for working transgender and gender non-conforming folks and our families and the fight for healthcare for all. In the recent National Transgender Discrimination Survey conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, we found that 19% of trans and gender non-conforming folks are uninsured entirely and 19% had to rely on public insurance. Additionally, 58% of the general population enjoy employer-based insurance coverage while only 51% of trans and gender non-conforming people do. Bargaining for transgender-inclusive healthcare coverage in contracts with employers will expand access to quality, employer-based insurance coverage for many working trans and gender non-conforming people.
For members like Jillian Dacosta, a long-time leader from SEIU local 2579 who is transgender, the passage of this resolution was momentous. After the passage of the resolution Jillian said,
I felt a deep sense of satisfaction and gratitude for my SEIU brothers and sisters. I feel part of the SEIU community with a place at the table.
Jillian transitioned on the job as a union leader, had to pay for many of her transition-related medical expenses out of pocket and even traveled abroad for transition-related surgeries due to limited financial resources. She has been highly engaged in changing workplace climate, healthcare access and climate within the union for trans and gender non-conforming members and staff.