Here in the good ol' US of A, we sometimes have a tendency to take one step forward and two steps back. Today, though, I'd say it's an even one and one. Ten-year-old boy running for class president Herman Cain might have referred to former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as "Princess Nancy," but the government finally started taking the issue of gender identity seriously. The IRS recently notified the Tax Court that it would start allowing expenses from sex-reassignment surgery to be tax deductible, as outlined by a 2010 decision.
Each year, around 1,000 people undergo the surgery — which is five-figures-expensive, often isn't covered by insurance, and until now, would require you to wage war against the IRS if you believed (rightly) that your having a gender-identity disorder was a medical condition, and that it was necessary that you treat it. Which is what Rhiannon O’Donnabhain, a woman who was born male, had to deal with for almost a decade. Although the IRS had originally turned down her case, now that the decision has gone into effect she has mostly been reimbursed for her medical expenses — except for her breast augmentation surgery.
Frankly, 1,000 people per year sounds like so few to me, when the American population has become much more familiar and understanding of sex-reassignment surgery. (The ever-important character Alexis Meade, played by Rebecca Romijn, on Ugly Betty, had a sex-change! And that show used to be on network television!) So hopefully now it will be a viable option for more people who need it.