Julia McKeown has been an Assistant Professor in the Teacher Education and Learning Sciences Department of North Carolina State University College of Education since 2016, also serving as Graduate Coordinator for the program. Julia is a transgender woman –meaning that she was assigned male at birth but identifies as female. In 2010, Julia began her transition in order to live more authentically as the woman she knows herself to be.
In 2017, Julia, with the recommendation of her health care providers, decided to undergo medically necessary gender confirmation surgery. Even though she was a state employee, as a teacher at North Carolina State University, and enrolled in the NC State Health Plan for State Employees and Teachers, coverage for Julia’s care was excluded. To receive the life-saving care that she needed, Julia was faced with the difficult decision of paying over $14,000 from her savings and retirement accounts to pay for the services. In 2019, Julia and other state employees and their children, represented by Lambda Legal and TLFDEF, filed a lawsuit seeking to ensure that transgender people are not discriminated against in the NCSHP.
“The state rejected my medical claims based on discriminatory exclusions in their policies,” she said. “They discriminated against me even after having multiple doctors and psychologists concur that these procedures are critical for my treatment. The emotional impact and toll has been painful for my family. My request is simple: Allow access to the same health care that other are afforded in the state health care plan.”