Latin America’s e-commerce giant Mercado Libre (MELI) said Monday that it will pay up to 70% of the value of gender reassignment surgeries for its trans employees in the region. The benefit is capped at up to $5,000 per procedure and is valid for employees with at least one year at the company.
The company also said that it will offer bail bond payments for property rental and legal counseling for name and gender changes in civil records, as well as psychological support for employees.
Mercado Libre offers trans people 15 days of leave per year for medical procedures. The company also has gender-neutral bathrooms in its operations.
Patricia Monteiro de Araujo, director of People at Mercado Libre in Brazil, said that the LGBTQIA+ community is one of the focuses of the company’s diversity and inclusion strategy.
“We want our professionals to choose Mercado Libre because they identify with our purpose, values, and culture. However, we also recognize how some benefits can promote the well-being of trans people. That’s why we are expanding our efforts, with tangible benefits focused on important issues that are fundamental to our employees,” she said in a press statement.
Sex reassignment surgery remains a very expensive process and very few trans people can afford them with their own resources.
According to a report by Investopedia, a treatment involves not only surgery but also hormonal processes and procedures to increase breast volume or mastectomy, if the process is female-masculine. Similarly, a facial surgery process can range from $53,000 to $70,100 in the US.
Furthermore, according to Bloomberg Law, “the transition process for a trans person is very particular. The cost of surgeries can range from roughly $5,000 to $100,000, plus the costs of hormone therapy, speech therapy, and other care.”
In Latin America, the costs vary significantly, and in some countries in the region, proposals have been evaluated to have the federal or regional government contribute to the cost of the surgeries. The issue has been discussed in Mexico City. In Brazil, the public health system SUS provides sexual reassignment procedures.