In Barrington, New Hampshire, transgender worker Lillian Bernier filed a federal lawsuit against her employer, Turbocam Inc., for denying access to gender-affirming healthcare. Health plan administrators Health Plans, Inc. and Harvard Pilgrim Health Club of New England, Inc. are also named as plaintiffs in the suit. Bernier is represented by GLBTQ+ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD).
The context: Bernier has worked as a machinist at Turbocam, Inc. in Barrington, New Hampshire since 2019, according to Advocate. Turbocam, Inc.'s health insurance plan does not cover gender-affirming care like hormone therapy and various surgeries.
- Bernier began transitioning in October 2020. She has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria by her primary care physician and by her mental health counselor, and she legally changed her name in February 2021.
- Bernier paid for some gender-affirming treatments out of pocket while forgoing or delaying other procedures.
- When she confronted her employer about the lack of coverage, Turbocam, Inc. doubled down on its healthcare provider's decision not to cover gender-affirming care.
The bigger picture: On its website, Turbocam, Inc. says it operates "in Christian service to God and its people." The company's denial of Bernier's gender-affirming care may be linked to its religious beliefs.
- According to the federal suit, Turbocam, Inc. and its healthcare providers may be in violation of both state and federal laws prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ+ workers.
- New Hampshire is categorized as low-risk by journalist Erin Reed in her Anti-Trans Legislative Risk Map. At the time of this writing, there are no laws prohibiting transgender adults or youth from accessing gender-affirming healthcare through state or private insurance.
- The outcome of this lawsuit could set a precedent for other transgender people facing discrimination in the workplace.