Starbucks has announced plans to offer comprehensive care for transgender employees, covering several procedures that are usually excluded by insurers.
In the new plan announced on Monday, Starbucks said that in addition to covering bottom surgery, they will now cover all other medical steps in a person’s transition.
This will cover several other procedures that were previously considered cosmetic – which can often be hard to obtain as insurers typically refuse to cover them.
The international coffee chain will now cover procedures including top surgeries in the form of breast reduction or augmentation, hair removal or transplants and facial feminisation surgery.
As well as covering all gender-confirming surgeries, the coffee chain will also help trans employees find appropriate doctors and healthcare providers.
Starbucks has covered bottom surgery since 2012, making it one of the first national employers to do so in the US.
Although many employers now provide coverage for bottom surgery, many trans people have highlighted the need for comprehensive coverage.
Trans advocates have highlighted that medical transition is often represented as one surgery, when it actually involves multiple procedures that take many years.
Ron Crawford, vice president of benefits at Starbucks, explained that the new plan hoped to be fully inclusive.
“The approach was driven not just by the company’s desire to provide truly inclusive coverage, and by powerful conversations with transgender partners about how those benefits would allow them to truly be who they are.
“You have to think of it from an equity perspective.”
He added: “Nobody else is doing this. We would love to see more employers doing this.”
Starbucks worked with the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) in order to determine which procedures were required to help transgender employees.
Jamison Green, who worked with Starbucks on behalf of WPATH, said that the company was the first to ever partner with the charity.
Green said: “Starbucks was not afraid to ask all the right questions and demand that people get the best possible care.
“We produced a list of the most crucial benefits and those that are deemed problematic to insurance companies, such as facial feminization and electrolysis.”
Two Starbucks chains are currently involved in a legal battle after a transgender man filed a discrimination complaint against them.
The complaint from Paul Bray was originally thrown out but was then reinstated after an appeals court maintained the suit.
Bray is filing complaints against Starbucks coffee shops in Eden Prairie and Edina, Minnesota, saying their treatment of him changed after he told them he was transgender in March 2013, after changing his name.
Bray shared the information with an employee, Adam Voth, so as to explain any confusion with the names on his credit card, and Voth promised to keep it confidential.
However afterwards, another Eden Prairie Starbucks employee, Sophia Peka, who Bray had formed a friendship with over a year of visiting the coffee shop, began to discriminate against him.