• Laura Castonguay

Meaningful Work & Healthcare: A Supportive Transition

Here at Relay, we envision a world where everyone has meaningful work. Part of having meaningful work includes ensuring our employees have access to affordable healthcare. This has proved especially important for Data Imaging Operator Cynthia House, who has worked on our Office Solutions team for more than five years.

Cynthia sits at her desk as she prepares her scanning for the day.

When Cynthia first interviewed at Relay, she interviewed as Dave. While she was born male, Cynthia spent much of her adult life identifying as a woman, but she hadn’t legally changed her name and gender designation. Two years after joining Relay, Cynthia made the decision to officially transition.

Cynthia and her co-worker Laura pause for a picture while reviewing a document.

In preparation for the change, she sat down with her supervisor and human resources to talk about how best to present her transition to the team. All three decided to have a team meeting where Cynthia could explain what was happening and answer any questions.

“It’s better when everyone’s together in one place and understands what’s going on. It’s easier that way. It was a good show of support,” Cynthia said about the meeting.

When asked if her team had any questions for her, she laughed, “Not really. At least not that I remember. Everyone was just happy for me, and friendly. Just like they always are.”

In the Fall, Cynthia is continuing her transition by undergoing gender affirmation surgery through Kaiser Permanente’s Gender Pathways Clinic. At 72 years old, she’s ready for the next step. What sealed the deal? She received a phone call from the Gender Pathways Clinic confirming her surgery is fully covered by her Kaiser healthcare plan through Relay.*

In 2013, Kaiser Permanente established the Oakland Medical Center Multi-Specialty Transitions Department in Oakland, California. It was considered the first transgender health clinic that offered comprehensive services by a major U.S. health organization. In 2016, Kaiser opened The Gender Pathways Clinic in Portland, Oregon as a multi-disciplinary clinic committed to providing equitable, compassionate, and high-quality care for people who are transgender and nonbinary. The clinic offers medical and surgical services, case manager support, and other gender-affirming services like voice training, which Cynthia participates in.

Cynthia House poses for a picture.

Having affordable healthcare is important to everyone but having accessibility to transgender patient care covered by your workplace is essential for people who are transgender. The Center for American Progress reports that nearly 30% of transgender people said a doctor or health care provider refused to see them because of their actual or perceived gender identity. In 2009, the Human Rights Campaign, an organization that advocates for LGBTQ equality, began asking companies about transgender-inclusive benefits. At that time, only 49 major U.S. employers offered them. In 2018, more than 759 companies offer them. Relay is proud to be one.

Here at Relay, people are at the heart of everything we do. Focused on working together, we foster connections, take risks, and don’t compromise on what matters. “No one missed a beat when it came to Cynthia’s transition,” said Lynette Stewart, Cynthia’s supervisor. “Everyone is, and has been, very accepting and understanding. I just want my team to be happy with who they are, and if transitioning is going to make Cynthia happy, then I’m all for it.”


*Relay covers 100% of our employee’s medical and dental premiums through Kaiser Permanente.

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