A New York trans woman has been granted the right to have gender-reassignment surgery paid for by her health insurance, following an out of court settlement with her insurance company.

Ida Hammer, 34, was already living as a woman, and had requested pre-authorisation for the operation from her insurance company MVP Health Care, back in July 2011.

They rejected the application, deeming the surgery as “cosmetic” and only changed their stance when the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, threatened to file a lawsuit on behalf of Ms Hammer.

TLDEF announced the settlement today in a press release, which included a statement by Ms Hammer:

“I have been undergoing treatment for gender dysphoria for the past five years. My doctors determined that surgery is the only adequate treatment for my condition,” she said.

“My insurance company should not be second-guessing my doctors. I’m relieved that it is finally treating me fairly and covering the health care I need.”

TLDEF executive director, Michael Silverman said: “The well-established medical and legal consensus is that transgender-related health care is medically necessary care.

“This surgery is not designed to improve one’s appearance, but rather to treat a recognized medical condition. Transgender individuals pay the same premiums and simply want the same benefits as anyone else.”

MVP Health Care did not comment on the settlement.

The American Medical Association recommends gender reassignment as treatment for gender dysphoria.

Recently, in a legal first, a US judge ruled that a trans woman incarcerated in a male prison should also have her legal fees paid by the state, as well as gender reassignment surgery.