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New York Gov. Andrew CuomoDiana Robinson / Flickr

The Democratic governor of New York has ordered the state’s private health insurance providers to offer coverage for “sex change” procedures, including hormone treatments and elective surgery. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, delivered the announcement Thursday through a letter issued by the state Department of Financial Services, which informed insurers that they “may not deny medically necessary treatment otherwise covered by a health insurance policy solely on the basis that treatment is for gender dysphoria.”

Gender dysphoria is the technical term for what most people refer to as being “transgender” or “transsexual” – i.e., feeling that one was born into the body of the wrong sex.  People suffering from the condition often decide to transform their bodies by having their genitals surgically altered to resemble that of the opposite sex.  Women undergo mastectomies to remove their breasts, while men get breast and buttock implants to make their shape appear more feminine.  Most people of both sexes who choose to undergo surgery also opt to take a cocktail of hormones designed to force the body to behave more like the opposite sex; for example, a man taking estrogen might develop a higher-pitched voice, or a woman taking testosterone might develop facial hair.  In order to remain effective, the hormones must be taken for life.

The vast majority of U.S. insurers refuse to cover such procedures on the grounds that they are purely elective and very costly – a full “transformation” can cost upwards of $60,000.  But New York is the ninth state to have demanded that insurers cover “sex changes” in response to growing pressure from transgender activists insisting the procedures are “medically necessary” to “cure” their gender dysphoria.

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The other states that require insurers to cover “sex changes” are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. It is also mandatory in Washington, D.C.

Leslie Moran, a spokeswoman for the New York Health Plan Association, told the New York Times that insurers are worried that the new requirement could increase costs for both the industry and consumers in the near term.  Additionally, she said the policy “sets a precedent” that could lead to additional demands for coverage for elective procedures from people who claim they are medically necessary for mental health reasons.

If that prediction comes true, there is almost no limit to what the state could force insurers – and their subscribers – to pay for: plastic surgery for people with body dysmorphia, gastric bypass for the obese, surgical transformations for people with species dysphoria (a condition in which people believe they are animals trapped in human bodies).

The decision to force private insurers to cover “sex changes” has New York’s transgender activists hopeful that taxpayer-funded Medicaid will soon face the same fate.  The state has been trying to settle a class-action lawsuit accusing Medicaid of discrimination for not covering the procedures.  It was filed just days after the Obama administration ordered the federally funded Medicare program to offer “sex changes” for senior citizens.