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Berkeley Postpones Vote On Taxpayer-Funded Sex-Change Operations

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Berkeley City Hall. (CBS)

Berkeley City Hall. (CBS)

CBS SF Bay (con't)

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BERKELEY (KCBS/CBS 5/AP) – The Berkeley City Council has postponed a vote on a proposal to use taxpayer money to pay for sex-change operations for city employees, but it is still expected to be approved.

KCBS’ Tim Ryan Reports:

Council members on Tuesday decided to delay a final decision on the issue until Feb. 15, so that the language in the proposal could be fine-tuned.

“As a transgendered woman myself, I’m interested in removing the discriminatory distinctions against the medical treatment of transexuality, just in a civil rights point of view,” said finance employee Lynn Riordan, who is behind the proposal. “I’ve been working on this in the City of Berkeley, my employer, for the last couple of years.”

City funding would be minimal, just $20,000 to be replaced once the benefits are used. Gender-reassignment surgery can cost up to $50,000. The money would be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Councilman Darryl Moore said the delay will make the sex change policy more efficient and effective. “This sends a powerful message to people here in Berkeley and other municipalities, that this is an important issue,” said Leslie Ewing with the Pacific Center for the LGBT Community.

Berkeley health insurance providers Kaiser Permanente and Health Net don’t pay for the procedure under the city’s current health plans.

To be eligible for the fund, employees would have to have lived as the opposite sex for at least one year and undergone hormone therapy. They also would have to have worked for the city at least a year.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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