Published on April 9th, 2012 | by Wild Gender2
Trans Woman Fined $80K by Health Insurance Wins in Court
GOODHUE, Minn — After she was dropped from her husband’s health insurance, fined tens of thousands of dollars, and sued for obtaining a fraudulent marriage license, a Minnesota transgender woman won her case in Minnesota district court against her husband’s health insurance company. The judge in her case ruled that the health insurance was in “flagrant violation of its duty.”
Calvin and Christine Radtke were married in 2005, Mr. Radtke who works for the United Parcel Service naturally put her on his health insurance plan through the Miscellaneous Drivers and Helpers Union Local #638 Health, Welfare, Eye and Dental Fund. When the company saw a document in Christine’s medical file noting that she had gender reassignment surgery, it sent a letter to the couple notifying them that she was being dropped from coverage.
“The Fund has learned, for the first time, that Christine underwent a male to female sex reassignment surgery prior to your marriage,” the health fund wrote. “In reviewing the terms of the Fund, it is the judgment of the Claims Administrator that despite the amendment of Christine’s birth certificate and your subsequent marriage, the basis for your marriage is not one that is currently recognized under any express provisions of Minnesota Law. Accordingly, Christine is not an eligible dependent under the Fund.”
The health fund canceled Christine’s health coverage and demanded repayment of $80,411 in past medical benefits with interest. And argued that the couple had “wrongfully obtained a replacement birth certificate (for Mrs. Radtke) from the State of Wisconsin, falsely certified on the Minnesota Application for Marriage License that one of the applicants is a man and the other is a woman, fraudulently and illegally obtained a Certificate of Marriage from the State of Minnesota, and by and through her agent Calvin Radtke, falsely represented to the Fund that Plaintiff is the legal spouse of Calvin Radtke.”
In response, the couple sued the health plan on the grounds that it had improperly denied Christine medical coverage as the spouse of Radtke. In turn, the health fund sued the couple, charging that the two had fraudulently obtained a marriage license based on Christine’s “false representation of being a woman.”
In his ruling in favor of Mrs. Radtke, Chief U.S. District Judge Michael Davis said that, under Minnesota law, a married individual’s gender is determined at the time they married. Mr. Davis argued that the health fund had “ignored all evidence” concerning Minnesota law about the issue, and said its treatment of the plaintiff “was a flagrant violation of its duty under any standard of review.”
As to the allegations that the couple’s marriage is invalid due to Ms. Radtke’s trans status, Mr. Davis said her gender has no baring.
“There is no law in Minnesota that prohibits recognition by the state of a person’s changed sex,” he said in his statement. “Minnesota is among 43 jurisdictions, including Wisconsin, that permit individuals who have undergone sex reassignment surgery to change their birth records to recognize change of sex.”
Davis noted that “Minnesota law recognizes the Radtkes’ marriage as a marriage between a man and a woman because Minnesota law recognizes (Mrs. Radtke’s) sex as female. Every piece of evidence related to this Plaintiff that was presented to the Fund supported the conclusion that the State of Minnesota recognized her marriage — from her name change order, to her Goodhue County Court order requiring amendment of her birth certificate, to her marriage license and marriage certificate.”
“I just felt we were targeted and railroaded,” Mrs. Radtke told the Minnesota Star Tribune. “For two years this has just been a stressful, painful mess for Calvin and myself. Financially, it’s been hard. It’s been really hard.”