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'It is life affirming surgery and treatment': Houston County activists protest $1.25 million lawsuit appeal

In 2019 sheriff's investigator Anna Lange sued the county and the sheriff because they refused to pay for her gender-affirming medical care.

HOUSTON COUNTY, Ga. — Some Houston County activists challenged county commissioners on Tuesday about why they plan to spend more money on a $1.25 million lawsuit. 

We've been covering this case since 2019 when sheriff's investigator Anna Lange sued the county and the sheriff because they refused to pay for her gender-affirming medical care.

Tuesday night, commissioners heard arguments from both sides. 

Those who said that the commission should accept the judges ruling and pay for the surgery, and others who said Lange should get no help from the county.

Amanda Schuber, a member of Houston county's LGBTQ+ network, attended. 

"We have a chance to affirm transgender lives," Schuber said.

Schuber says gender-affirming surgery is medically necessary.

"I think it's more than that. I think it is life affirming surgery and treatment. These insurance plans cover all kinds of things that aren't life affirming," Schuber said.

A federal judge last year ordered the county to pay saying they were discriminating against a transgender employee. Houston County is challenging that in federal appeals court. 

Lange's lawyer says treatment would cost around $25,000.

Julian Santos is the founder of Houston County LGBTQ + Network.
Santos and around 10 of his group members came to the event to speak out for Lange.

"It is a life or death situation because a lot of people who are trans will feel like they don't have any other option if they're living in somebody else's skin," Santos said.

Lange's lawsuit says she suffers from gender dysphoria. 

Gender dysphoria is defined as when the "innate internal sense of being male, female or some other category" does not match a persons physical characteristics from birth. 

Daryl Allen lives in Warner Robins, he says the commission should spend more money to fight this case.

"Me and my wife we struggled to get pregnant. There are zero money, funds for that. People who want to practice being who they are, to have and raise children there's no help for us," Allen said.

Jacqueline Rozier agrees with Allen.

"That individual made a choice to decide to change a gender. Then, they make a choice, then they pay the cost," Rozier said.

Lange has worked at the Sheriff's office for nearly 20 years. Her lawyers previously spoke to 13WMAZ. 

They said their research shows that insurance premiums for county workers would not increase if the county paid for Lange's coverage.

"We want to make sure that Houston County citizens know what's going on. Know that it's wrong and know that there is people out here trying to do something about it," Santos said.

Since it is an on going case the Houston County commissioners chose not to respond to the publics comments. 

Anna Lange did not attend Tuesday's vote due to ongoing legal proceedings. However, she did send us a statement.

"I'm not one of the organizers of tomorrow's meeting and I'm not able to attend. This makes this even more moving for me, that people who I don't even know would come out and support me and take a stand against discrimination. I'm very grateful for the support. Once again, I'm calling on the county to do the right thing, stop discriminating, and stop wasting taxpayer money defending their losing case."

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