Deputy transgender suing Georgia County goes to court

MACON, Ga. — A sheriff’s deputy returned to court Monday for a civil suit seeking monetary damages from the Georgia county where she works after a federal judge ruled that her deputy health insurance chiefs for illegally refused gender confirmation surgery.

Sergeant Anna Lange wants a jury to award her damages for emotional distress, legal fees and reimbursement of more than $10,000 in medical expenses she incurred because Houston County excluded surgery for the transgender woman from its health insurance plan .

US District Court Judge Marc Treadwell ruled in June that the district’s refusal to provide Lange’s prescribed gender confirmation treatments constituted illegal sex discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Treadwell’s order cited the US Supreme Court’s 2020 decision that found a Michigan funeral home could not fire an employee because he was transgender. He also found unquestioningly that Lange’s operation was “medically necessary”.

However, the judge felt there was insufficient evidence to legally determine whether County had willfully discriminated against Lange and therefore owed her monetary damages. He ordered a civil trial to allow a jury to decide the matter.

Treadwell wrote in his June order that Lange told the sheriff and other county officials in 2018 that she wanted to dress up as a woman at work while inquiring whether Houston County’s health plan would cover gender-confirmation surgery .

Sheriff Cullen Talton, who was first elected sheriff in 1972, told Lange he didn’t “believe in gender reassignment surgery” before finally granting her permission to dress as a woman, the judge wrote.

However, the county’s health plan had excluded sex-change surgery and medication since 1998, and evidence showed Houston County officials chose to keep the exclusion even after their insurance company told them in 2016 that the rule was discriminatory under the federal Affordable Care Act be.

County officials argued that they did not intentionally discriminate against Lange because she was transgender, but instead were trying to keep health insurance costs low.