David Ige, the governor of Hawaii, signed three new bills to support the state's LGBTQ community last Thursday.

David Ige, the governor of Hawaii, signed three new bills to support the state’s LGBTQ community last Thursday.

House Bill 2405 requires health insurers to include medically necessary gender affirming care in their regular coverage. It will specifically prevent insurers from classifying such treatments as ‘cosmetic’ to exclude them from coverage, as has too often been the case. ‘Medically necessary’ care will include measures like hormone therapy, feminizing and masculinizing surgeries, voice therapies, and laser hair removal.

HB 2405 will also require insurance companies to clearly identify their appeals process to all insurees, at the time of any denied claims.

“This bill is key to protecting people from discrimination in accessing gender affirming treatment,” Ige said.

“Surgical care not only improves mental health, it improves your own body and it also improves the quality of our lives,” said D. Ojeda, national organizer for the National Center for Transgender Equality. “When we don’t have access to gender affirming care, it can lead to fatal situations like suicide and also violence.

Senate Bill 2136 is a very targeted bill – it prohibits lawyers from excluding people from jury selection based on their gender identity or expression.

“Our Constitution requires a jury of peers, and we believe that everyone in our community should be a participant in our system,” Ige said.

Senate Bill 2670 establishes a state commission on the status of LGBTQ people in Hawaii. David Ige wants the commission to serve as both watchdog and public awareness icon for the queer community, and to help coordinate programs to protect LGBTQ Hawaiians, particularly the youth.

Hawaii is already considered one of the most LGBT-friendly states, with state laws protecting things like adoption and housing nondiscrimination, and conversion therapy bans. These new bills are important steps forward, covering gaps and working towards true nondiscrimination.

Photo: Theodore Trimmer / Shutterstock

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