Grindr LLC, the dating app that specializes in connections for the LGBTQ+ community, is rolling out new benefits to support employees seeking gender affirmation surgery, joining other companies that are endeavoring to help employees receive care that is sometimes difficult to access.
Under the new benefits, which have been in the works for about nine months and became available to employees in mid-April, Grindr will work with healthcare providers to offer the surgery without needing several letters from a psychiatrist that includes their mental health history and a recommendation for the surgery, which advocates say places a burden on patients.
Instead, employees will sign attestations that the surgery is required for them to live according to their gender identity, said Heidi Schriefer, Grindr’s vice president of people and places. Grindr will also cover the cost of flights and hotel stays if employees need to travel for care.
Grindr’s expansion of benefits comes after Tinder owner Match Group Inc. and Bumble Inc. said last year that they would cover travel costs for employees seeking abortions in other states after Texas passed restrictive laws against the procedure. On Monday night, Politico reported that it obtained a draft majority opinion by the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, which made the choice to seek most abortions a constitutional right for women nationwide.
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Amy Jie, director of product at Grindr, helped craft the new benefits after her experience transitioning under her former employer’s coverage plan. The lack of providers that are knowledgeable and compassionate toward queer patients leads to patients not seeking coverage, she said. Jie had to send letters to almost 30 psychiatrists to get the necessary letters for insurance coverage.
A 2020 report from the Center for American Progress found that one-in-three transgender patients had to teach their doctor about transgender individuals in order to receive adequate healthcare, and three in 10 reported postponing or avoiding treatment as a result of discrimination.
“It made me feel like my problems were not ones society cared about,” Jie said. “It’s that ritual humiliation and conditional care that causes such a high percentage of queer people to avoid seeking healthcare.”
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The costs for surgeries are expensive. The one-time cost for a female-to-male surgery is $180,000 to $200,000 and male-to-female surgery can cost $80,000 to $100,000, Schriefer said. Some of Grindr’s new benefits also cover name changes on legal documents, hormone therapy, new wardrobe attire and voice therapy.
While Tinder and Bumble are both LGBTQ+ friendly, Grindr is more popular within the community but it’s facing issues with user privacy as the Wall Street Journal reported that a digital advertiser sold location data that could compromise users’ identities.
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