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An appeals court has upheld a ruling mandating that a Georgia county cover the cost of surgery for a transgender deputy

Anna Lange (Via Riley Jacks/Shutterstock)

A federal appeals court has upheld a previous decision by a lower court that found a Georgia county guilty of unlawful discrimination against a deputy sheriff for denying coverage of her gender-affirming surgery.

In its ruling on Monday, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals addressed whether a health insurance provider could be held accountable under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for refusing to cover a procedure because the employee is transgender. The panel of three judges voted 2-1 in favor of holding the provider accountable, affirming the lower court’s decision.

Sergeant Anna Lange, an investigator with the Houston County sheriff’s office, filed a lawsuit against Sheriff Cullen Talton and the county in 2019 after her coverage was denied.

Anna Lange, a sheriff’s sergeant in Houston County (Via Riley Jacks/Shutterstock)

“I have served my community with pride for many years, and it has been incredibly painful to see the county use significant resources to deny me basic health care – health care that the courts and a jury of my peers have already acknowledged I deserve,” Lange said in a statement released by the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, which represented her.

When contacted for comment, a staff member at the sheriff’s office said they would relay the message.

In 2022, U.S. District Court Judge Marc Treadwell ruled that the county’s refusal to cover Lange’s medically prescribed surgery constituted illegal discrimination based on sex under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Judge Treadwell’s decision referenced a 2020 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that determined a Michigan funeral home violated the law by firing an employee because they were transgender.

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