ASHEVILLE, N.C. (BP) — In 2002, no major U.S. corporation covered transgender procedures, such as gender-reassignment surgery and drug therapy, under its employee medical benefit plan. Today more than 400 do, including Ford, Apple and Coke. The Kroger Co., the largest grocery chain in the nation with 2,500 stores, is set to join the list next month.
Beginning Jan. 1, Kroger’s 400,000 workers will be eligible for up to $100,000 for gender-reassignment surgery, drug therapy and other procedures. Kroger will become the largest American retailer to offer such coverage.
The announcement earlier this fall thrilled gay activists and media outlets. The Daily Beast called the move a “milestone for private employers in the United States” and a “tipping point, of sorts” because it boosted Kroger’s score on the Human Rights Campaign’s “Corporate Equality Index,” a public relations tool designed to pressure businesses into adopting pro-homosexual policies. With Kroger’s decision, nine out of the 10 largest American private employers will score an “A” on the index.
Only four of the 10 largest American companies — Walmart, McDonald’s, The Home Depot and UPS — do not offer “trans-inclusive” benefits, according to The Daily Beast, but the website noted that “all four would have a 100 percent rating if they made this single change.”
Despite the accolades from the gay community, Kroger is not setting a trend, noted Peter Sprigg, senior research fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council. Political correctness has long dominated higher education, the news media and the entertainment industry. “Unfortunately, I think we can now add most of corporate America to that list,” he said.
Companies do not make these decisions “because of a dispassionate evaluation of what attracts the best employees and how best to serve them,” Sprigg said. “Instead, it is the result of relentless lobbying on the part of LGBT activists, accompanied by implicit or explicit threats to try to harm a company’s reputation if they do not fall into line.”
Transgender issues will play an increasing role in American life, he suggested, involving children, education and the federal government through issues such as mixed-gender locker rooms and all-gender bathrooms.
How conservatives respond when dealing with these issues is important, he said.
“We must always communicate that we do not seek to harm homosexual or transgender persons, but on the contrary, seek to spare them from the well-documented harms to physical and mental health that are associated with homosexual and transgender conduct,” he said.