OLYMPIA – As states like Arkansas, Florida, and Texas are considering and passing anti-trans legislation, lawmakers in Washington state are working to protect the rights of those in the trans community.

SB 5313, also known as the Gender Affirming Treatment Act and sponsored by State Sen. Marko Liias (D-Everett), would prohibit health insurers from denying or limiting coverage for gender affirming treatment that is consistent with a protected gender expression or identity, is medically necessary, and is prescribed in accordance with accepted standards of care.

SB 5313 received a concurrence vote in the Senate late Monday, which means the bill now goes to Governor Inslee for consideration.

“I’m absolutely disgusted by what I’m reading in the headlines right now about these anti-trans bills being proposed in other states,” said Liias. “What we’re seeing right now out of Arkansas, Florida, and other states is truly appalling. I’m extremely proud of Washington’s commitment to protecting our trans family members, friends, neighbors, and co-workers by passing bills like the Gender Affirming Treatment Act. Trans families are welcomed and supported here in Washington state.”

Many health plans in Washington state classify gender confirmation treatment as cosmetic and therefore such treatment is often not included in health insurance plans.

“There is still one remaining area of profound discrimination in our health care system, which is the care that our transgender Washingtonians need,” said Liias. “Gender confirmation treatment is medically necessary for many in our transgender community, but our friends and neighbors are not able to access this treatment because its considered cosmetic by many health plans. We must ensure every Washingtonian has access to medically necessary care that allows them to lead healthy, productive lives.”

Liias cited studies that show expanding access to gender confirmation treatment leads to improved health outcomes during his testimony in the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee on February 3. According to the American Medical Association:

  • Members of the transgender community are three times more likely to be diagnosed with mental health disorders.
  • Individuals with gender dysphoria who have undergone no gender confirmation treatment are twice as likely to experience moderate-to-severe depression and four times likely to experience anxiety compared to their surgically affirmed peers.
  • Suicidality rates drop from 30% for pre-treatment transgender people to 8% who are post-treatment.

Additional Information

TVW: Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee Public Testimony

TVW: Senator Liias Floor Debate Remarks