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Firms like Netflix, Tesla and Facebook now offer gender reassignment procedures as staff benefit

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Coverage for gender reassignment surgery is rare but growing, with eight per cent of employers with 500 or more workers covering gender reassignment surgery in 2014 – compared to five per cent in 2013. This is according to data from a survey by Mercer.

As such, its still the preserve of large firms such as Goldman Sachs, which has offered the procedures as part of its health care package since 2008. Netflix, Facebook and Tesla are also among the companies identified as offering the procedures.

The companies are part of the Corporate Equality Index, which rates employers who provide at least one transgender-inclusive healthcare plan. The index showed that the number of companies offering such procedures has increased from 49 in 2009, to 418 in 2015.

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It said: “Businesses large and small have removed transgender exclusions from health insurance contracts and modified clinical guidelines to provide health insurance coverage for mental health counselling, hormone therapy, medical visits, surgical procedures and other treatments related to gender transition or sex reassignment.”

However, the addition of gender reassignment procedures to the list of permitted treatments under staff health cover has been seen by some as a way for bosses to promote their commitment to a diverse workforce.

Professor James Baron from Yale University suggested such perks could be a way for employers to look as though they promote diversity, without employing more transgender staff members and “knowing that very few employees will actually use the new services”.

As well as that, research from the University of California found that only one person in every 10,000-20,000 workers would take advantage of these procedures, explaining: “It becomes a bit of a rat race as to who can out-commit whom with diversity initiatives. Committing to this form of equality allows a company to put another arrow in its quiver without terribly profound cost implications.”

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