|GLAD Wins Tax Deduction for G.R.S. Genital Reconstruction
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Boston, November 30, 2004
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Carisa Cunningham, GLAD
(617) 426-1350 / (617) 447-6500 (cell)
GLAD WINS TAX DEDUCTION FOR G.R.S. GENITAL RECONSTRUCTION SURGERY
(Boston) The Internal Revenue Service has concluded that a transsexual
woman represented by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) may deduct
expenses for G.R.S.Genital reconstruction Surgery as a necessary medical expense.
The decision overturned a tax examiner's refusal to allow Rhiannon O'Donnabhain's
claimed deduction because he viewed her sex reassignment surgery as "cosmetic".
As the Appeals Officer determined, however, Ms. O'Donnabhain's surgery
was medically necessary and an integral part of a professionally prescribed course
of treatment for her diagnosed condition. The decision has important implications
for other government programs as well as for private contracts of insurance.
"This important decision recognizes that Genital reconstruction Surgery
can be as medically necessary for some people as an appendectomy or heart bypass
surgery," said GLAD attorney Karen Loewy, who represented Ms. O'Donnabhain in
her appeal. "Any notion that medical treatment for a transgender person is purely
cosmetic is based on misunderstanding and prejudice, not medical science."
Rhiannon O'Donnabhain underwent Genital reconstruction Surgery in 2001
after having been diagnosed with gender dysphoria. She and her health care providers
determined that reconstruction Surgery was a medically necessary step to enable her
to live her life as a woman.
"I am greatly relieved by the Appeals Officer's decision," said
Ms. O'Donnabhain. "While the money was important to me, so too was the underlying
principle. I hope this case sends a clear message that transgender people deserve
dignity, respect and equal treatment for our medical care."
Public Affairs and Education Director
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders