Starbucks has just announced an expansion to their benefits package that will now offer hair transplants, voice therapy, face feminisation, augmentation surgery, breast reduction, and more.
Health insurance plans for the coffee giant have included gender reassignment surgery since 2012, but now surgeries that were not previously covered under the plans will be made available to all employees.
After teaming with the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) to expand benefits under the plan, an array of new options are available that were once considered to be cosmetic, and therefore not covered.
According to a news release, WPATH immediate past president Jamison Green says Starbucks is the first company in the world to reach out to WPATH for help translating their recommended standards into a medical benefits policy. “Starbucks was not afraid to ask all the right questions and demand that people get the best possible care,” said Green. “We produced a list of the most crucial benefits and those that are deemed problematic to insurance companies, such as facial feminization and electrolysis.”
Green went on to claim that procedures like electrolysis can be “a life-saving procedure for trans women,” and that some procedures most would consider cosmetic are not an option for trans people.
Starbucks helps their trans employees to navigate the process of finding health providers and assist in making sure their claims are met. They also have advocates who are trained to specifically work with partners who are transitioning. (Starbucks refers to its employees as partners.)
Vice president of benefits at Starbucks said: “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.” He added: “Nobody else is doing this. We would love to see more employers doing this.”
In 2013, during the annual shareholders meeting that was held in Seattle, Washington, CEO Howard Schultz told investor Tom Strobhar, that if he didn’t agree with their support of the LGBTQ agenda, he could take his shares elsewhere. Strobhar is the founder of the anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage Corporate Morality Action Center as well as the chairman of Life Decisions International, a Virginia-based non-profit that’s been fighting to oppose Planned Parenthood since 1992. One could see how the two opposing sides may come to a bit of a heated exchange.
It’s no secret that Starbucks has been a long time of the LGBTQ agenda. In 2014, the company raised a 38-foot wide by 19-foot tall rainbow flag on top of their Seattle Headquarters, where it remained throughout the weekend of Seattle’s Pride Parade. It was such a hit, they decided to make it an annual event and raise the flag each year during Pride Week.
In 2017, Starbucks scored a perfect 100 out of 100 on The Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2018 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), a survey recognizing support for LGBTQ equality among the nation’s top employers.
Starbucks released their first LGBTQ-themed commercial in 2016, starring two top contenders from ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race” season six, Bianca Del Rio and Adore Delano:
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