Activists hold Trans Health Insurance Forum at Gay City

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In 2009, Danni Askini was raising hell to debunk “Gender Identity Disorder” from the official list of diagnosable mental illnesses. It’s not like concepts of disease are immutable, after all: Homosexuality was a sickness until 1973, when doctors suddenly agreed that it’s wasn’t. Why shouldn’t transgender people similarly shed the stigma of pathology?

“Oh, young me,” she laughs to the roughly 60 people packed inside Gay City’s tiny auditorium. “You didn’t know!”

Askini is speaking on a panel held last Saturday at the Trans Health Insurance Forum, orchestrated by the Coalition for Inclusive Healthcare. And she’s laughing because, in the past five years, she’s gone from decrying transgender diagnoses to sometimes promoting them, for two reasons.

First, a shift in what that diagnosis means: in 2013, the American Psychiatric Association updated “Gender Identity Disorder” (which treated gender nonconformity per se as an illness) to “Gender Dysphoria” (which concentrates on the harm caused by dissonance between experienced- vs. assigned-gender). Second, the Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare) has expanded insurance coverage and — as the Washington Office of the Insurance Commissioner affirmed this past June — prohibited insurer discrimination against trans-related care.

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