Austin on Thursday became the first city in Texas — and the 43rd in the nation — to add transgender-inclusive health benefits for employees.
The City Council unanimously approved a resolution adding trans-inclusive benefits — including primary care, hormone therapy, mental health care and surgical care — beginning in 2015.
The council also voted to require business owners to install signage indicating that single-stall restrooms are gender-neutral, and approved a resolution on pregnancy guidelines that specifically includes transmen.
From trans activist and HRC board member Meghan Stabler (above), who lives in Austin:
BREAKING: Today, the Austin City Council unanimously approved a resolution directing the City Manager to incorporate transgender-inclusive benefits as part of the City employee benefits package in the Fiscal Year 2015-2016 proposed budget. Specifically the City Council approved three trans* friendly items:
Ordinance — single occupancy gender neutral restroom signage now required.
— Directs city manager to incorporate Trans-inclusive health benefits for city employees as part of Fiscal year 2015-16 proposed budget
— Directs city manager to examine workforce practices in other cities regarding personnel policies for **pregnancy-capable** employees & develop recommendations for implementation to council May 1st 2015. – note that the resolution specifically includes transmen.
The trans-inclusive benefits were opposed by the Travis County Taxpayers Association, and gender-neutral restrooms faced opposition from the anti-LGBT group Texas Values and its President Jonathan Saenz, according to a recent report from KTBC-TV:
“Legally, politically and financially, this is not a smart move by the city of Austin,” Saenz said. "There are major privacy issues and safety issues when we deal with these type of transgender bathroom issues and we’ve seen them come up in Houston and San Antonio, where women are concerned about sharing or having to use a restroom where maybe a man’s gonna come in before or after them, you have small children and little girls.”
Jimmy Flannigan, an openly gay City Council candidate, has also come under attack from his opponent for supporting the gender-neutral restroom proposal.
But Thursday's actions by the City Council only further solidify Austin's reputation as the queerest city in Texas.
Next up? Rainbow crosswalks.