Costa Rica court refuses to hear sex reassignment case

June 16, 2015

The Constitutional Chamber of Costa Rica’s Supreme Court refused to hear a case asking the country’s public health care system to pay for a sex reassignment surgery abroad, according to a court press release Monday.

The chamber, also known as Sala IV, voted 6-1 on June 12 not to hear a transgender woman’s case asking the Costa Rican Social Security System, or Caja, to pay for her sex reassignment surgery in another country since the operation is not available here.

The plaintiff verbally requested surgery at Hospital San Juan de Dios in 2014 as part of her transition into a woman. After making several requests for more information about the surgery, the plaintiff was told that the hospital did not have the policies or staff to perform the operation. The daily La Nación reported that the Caja had formed an interdisciplinary commission to discuss the case and the lack of policy on the matter. With no alternative in Costa Rica, the plaintiff asked the Caja to pay for the surgery in another country.

But the plaintiff’s petition did not include a statement from a doctor or medical review board that said the sexual reassignment surgery was medically necessary. Without a medical opinion in her favor, the hospital refused to pay for the surgery and the Sala IV agreed.

Judges Armijo, Cruz, Castillo, Abdelnour, Salas, and Estrada voted in the majority not to hear the case. Judge Jinesta cast the one dissenting vote.

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