“These coverages are absolutely essential,” UA Transgender Employee Hopes for Medical Policy Changes

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The University of Arkansas isn’t fronting the bill for transgender employees to receive the treatments and surgeries they desire, and some are hoping for assistance in the future. 

Kacee Sparks has spent her whole life wanting to be comfortable in her own skin. 

“I can afford the hormones because it is such a low cost but it does put an extra burden on me per month trying to pay that off,” Sparks said.

Sparks works at the University of Arkansas’ Post Office but as a transgender employee, she says she isn’t getting the same treatment.

“If I want to do any of the special advancements or go to special counseling for gender dysphoria, that adds a huge extra cost that’s completely unfeasible for me,” Sparks said.

According to the University of Arkansas System, any treatments for trans-related care is not covered through its health insurance.

This comes after a federal court ruling in 2017 that prohibited trans-related care- a ruling Sparks calls a major blow to the transgender community. 

“A lot of trans people don’t have access to resources, they don’t have access to the healthcare they need, and they don’t have access to the funds to get that sort of treatment,” Sparks said.

Now that the case is going back on the docket, employees are keeping a close eye on it in hopes of a reversal. 

“The little treatment I have gotten has been a huge lifesaver and I have felt a lot better getting it, but being able to go over the hill and get all the treatment I need, and counseling I need would be extremely beneficial for me,” Sparks said.

In a letter written to Sparks, President of The UA System’s Donal Bobbitt says, the university’s health plan is self-funded.

Plans cover 37,000 employees and their families at 20 separate campuses around the state, and the plan must responsibly finance the majority of needs. 

“I think people need to understand these medical coverages for a trans-related case is absolutely essential. It’s not the perception of like elective surgery or cosmetic or anything,” Sparks said.

Sparks says changing the policy would also mean a big step for the natural state.

“Not only would this help cover trans-related care but it makes a more welcoming community for trans people here in Arkansas,” Sparks said.

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