Every year around this time I start seeing the GLBT media get in a feeding frenzy about the HRC’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI). Story after story is told of how American corporations are getting better and better for GLBT Americans.

That may be true for GLB Americans, but the transgender part of the index is fatally flawed. The transgender wellness benefits defined in the 2c component include:

1. counseling by a mental health professional

2. pharmacy benefits covering hormone therapy

3. medical visits to monitor the effects of hormone therapy and other associated lab procedures.

4. medically necessary surgical procedures such as hysterectomy or short-term disability leave for surgical procedures

A company only needs to give ONE of these benefits to get the five points. What does that mean in a practical way?Nick Gorton MD explains it this way:

“Let’s say you are Dominos Pizza and you get the HRC CEI index survey to fill out. One question asks you if provide “medically necessary surgical procedures (i.e. hysterectomy)”. Then it asks you if you exclude transgender employees from this benefit. If you state that you don’t exclude transgender employees then you get 5 points on item (#4) 2.c on the CEI. So lets say your policy is that if a transgender man has invasive cervical cancer that your insurance will actually (shock and horror!) pay for his hysterectomy rather than condemning him to death for an untreated cancer. Well then heeeeeey! All of a sudden you are hella transgender friendly, Dominos. (And yes, Dominos got that…. Christian-Fundamentalist funding Dominos offers transgender benefits.)

Companies like Microsoft, General Motors, IBM, and Eastman Kodak will get the same grade as Dominos, even though they comprehensively cover (they cover parts a, b, and c, including sex reassignment surgery).