UPDATED: Mar 26, 2020
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Transgender people are people whose gender identity is different from the gender they were thought to be at birth. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, a transgender man lives as a man today but was believed to be female when he was born. And a transgender woman lives as a woman today but was considered to be male at birth.
In June of 2016, the New York Times reported that the transgender population in the U.S. had grown to 1.4 million adults. The number does not include anyone below the age of 18. The number, which represents approximately 0.6 percent of the population, was twice that of previous estimates. Researchers believe the new estimate reflects a growing awareness of transgender identity.
Obstacles to Overcome
Despite these growing numbers, we’ve seen only a few term life insurance applications for transgender people over the past year or so. The last one we received was for a female (transitioning from a male) who had begun hormone therapy treatment the year prior but had not yet surgically transitioned. It was curious because we had a difficult time finding the most appropriate life insurance company for her situation. The reason we struggled with this is that life insurance company guidelines for transgender individuals vary significantly from company to company.
The first question we had to answer is, “which gender applies?” This is important because term life insurance rates are higher for males than females of the same age. When we inquired to several companies, we received a mixed bag of responses:
- We will consider gender at birth.
- We will consider transitioned gender.
- We will consider transitioned gender only if the applicant has completed hormone therapy and/or surgical transition.
- Gender will be determined by medical record review and the physician’s medical opinion.
Once we were able to establish a company that would consider her a transitioned female, we next needed to address the rating class she was likely to receive. Once again, we found that company underwriting guidelines vary widely and are even more subjective than simply gender determination. Here’s a sampling of what we found:
- Preferred possible, assuming applicant meets all other Preferred criteria.
- The applicant is eligible for all classes assuming surgical transition has not been completed. If a surgical transition has been completed, we would postpone for a period of two years.
- Likely Standard rating, subject to full medical record review and all other Standard criteria is met.
- All classes available, subject to full review and assumes no medical or mental health complications.
How to Start Your Application
You can see the challenges transgender people may encounter when looking for the best rate on a term life insurance policy. It’s not as simple as choosing a website, viewing quotes, and selecting a life insurance company to apply with. The subjective nature of underwriting combined with the differences in company guidelines makes it significantly more challenging. And if the individual has medical conditions such as diabetes or heart issues, you can see how those conditions would compound an already complicated process.
If you are transgender and looking for life insurance, the important thing to know is you can get it. You’ll just need to do a little more research and digging to find a company that will rate you at the appropriate gender and gives you the best rating class possible. Finding an agent or broker with experience helping transgender people buy coverage is a good place to start.