MACON, Ga. — Benjamin Johnson has been transitioning for about six years, and he says it’s not a walk in the park.
“It’s hard to live in places where you don’t really feel welcome and comfortable, and feel safe,” Johnson said.
So he moved to Macon. He said he found it more welcoming than other cities. In 2020, Johnson started a city job working as a media clerk at McKibben Lane Elementary School.
“I feel very comfortable in Macon because they have a great community, LGBTQ community here,” Johnson said.
But after she started her job, she realized that her community, those seeking gender-affirming care, were not covered under the State Health Benefit Plan.
“I’m panicking because I know you know, you can go through the appeals process with insurance and stuff, and sometimes that gets taken care of. But I feel like my heart is breaking,” said Johnson.
In December, Johnson and two state employees filed a class action lawsuit against the state, alleging discrimination.
On Thursday, the case was settled, and the state agreed to pay for gender-affirming health care for state employees, public school teachers, and former employees covered by the health insurance plan. in the state.
As part of the settlement, the state agreed to pay $365,000 to the plaintiffs and their attorneys.
“Future transgender Georgians can now access the health care they need and that’s what they’ve been dreaming of,” Johnson said.
While Johnson is glad the state recognized his right to medical care, he said it wasn’t asking for much in the first place.
“We’re all Americans; we’re all people. We all deserve equal access to health care and everything. I mean, I’m no different than you or anyone else in this town or state,” said Johnson.
The Department of Community Health, which administers the insurance plan, was closed Saturday so 13 WMAZ could not reach them for comment. We will check them on Monday.