Insurance change could cost transgender woman in Klamath Falls

Klamath Falls, Ore. – A chance in insurance providers by Jeld-Wen next year is having a big impact on one of their local staff members.

Kassandra Harding is a transgender woman. “My name was Gary before, when I was a male.”

Kassandra has been working at a Jeld-Wen mill in Chiloquin for the past three years.

“I finally came out in January, and have been working on it outwardly,” Harding explained. “I’ve lived with it for most of my life, since I was a child of about 4 years old.”

Insurance has been paying for Kassandra’s hormone replacement therapy. But Jeld-Wen’s insurance is changing in January and Kassandra said the new policy would require that therapy for 2 years rather than 1 before surgery provided by the current plan.

“I am now scheduled for a surgical procedure come mid-March,” Harding said. “And now I wonder if I’m even going to have the insurance coverage that’s actually going to pay.”

Kassandra says her concern extends to a rapidly growing population of transgender people. “I just want to make sure that my other fellow employees that might be in a similar situation will be looked after and taken care of.”

Kassandra says the procedure is important for her own identity.

“It is who I am,” Harding said. “And so I’m just re-assigning myself to who I really am inside.”

Kassandra says Jeld-Wen’s Human Resources department has been helpful, but unable to make any changes to the new insurance police so far.

NBC5 contacted a PR firm representing Jeld-Wen for comment, and were told they couldn’t respond before our deadline.

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