LAW REVIEW: Only in San Francisco |

LAW REVIEW: Only in San Francisco

I think I have been in the mountains too long.

When I lived in San Francisco while attending law school, I was thoroughly enamored with the City. It was exciting and there was lots to do that didn’t cost much. I had no money.

I also appreciated the cultural diversity. All sorts of people lived in San Francisco and everyone seemed to get along. Nowadays when I visit the City, as often as possible, but not often enough, I sometimes feel out of place.

Call me a country bumpkin, but I am having a hard time with the latest decision of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. By press time San Francisco will make history and likely become the first city in the country to insure employee’s sex changes. San Francisco Supervisor Mark Leno, founder of the Transgender Civil Rights Implementation Task Force, thinks he has the votes. That should tell you something right there.

The new law will provide insurance for “transgenders.” Transgender includes cross-dressers, transvestites, transsexuals, and people born with characteristics of both sexes. I am not sure of the differences.

According to news reports, about 14 of the City’s 37,000 workers are transgender. The new insurance will be paid for by all of the employees, costing each about a $1.70 a month, like it or not. Again, according to news reports, on average, male-to-female surgery costs about $37,000, while female-to-male runs about $77,000. Sounds about right. I am sure you can find more details on the Internet.

What I find inappropriate about providing insurance for transgender operations, is that such a procedure is elective. I mean, if you want to change your sex, have at it, but don’t make everyone else pay for it.

Elective surgery is seldom covered by insurance. It’s hard enough to get insurance companies to pay for covered surgery, let alone elective add-ons or deletions.

For some reason, this topic reminds me of my last year in law school in San Francisco, when I worked for the San Francisco Neighborhood Legal Assistance Foundation (SNLAF) as a volunteer providing free legal advice.

My very first client, and I remember this as clearly as though it happened yesterday, was a guy named Mona. Mona wanted to sue the San Francisco Police Department for confiscating his hormone pills. I sympathized and did my legal best to get the pills back.

As long as I am at it, let me tell you about my second client at SNLAF. The office was doing draft counseling at the time, and a fellow came in that had just undergone his physical at the Oakland induction station. (I myself had three so I knew the drill.) Part of the process includes following a yellow line from one physical inspection station to the next with your entire file in hand – wearing only underwear – if you had underwear. If you didn’t, it was an even more humiliating experience.

Anyway, my client said he simply walked out the front door in his underwear with his entire Selective Service file, which he presented to me, wanting to know what he should do. I couldn’t think of any better advice than to say “nice going.”

I am sure we will read more about San Francisco’s sex change insurance coverage. It’s not going to play well in Peoria.

Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter /Simon, with offices in Truckee and Reno.

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