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“Sex-Change Medical Costs Are Tax-Deductible, U.S. Court Rules” was the title of an article today from Bloomberg.

Here’s an excerpt:

Rhiannon O'Donnabhain

Costs incurred in sex-change operations and procedures are tax-deductible, the U.S. Tax Court ruled.

The Washington-based court ruled yesterday that hormone therapies and sex reassignment surgeries are necessary to treat gender identity disorder, a disease, in the case of a Boston-area man who became a woman named Rhiannon O’Donnabhain.

“The Court is persuaded that petitioner’s sex reassignment surgery was medically necessary,” Judge Joseph Gale wrote in a 69-page decision for the majority.

The decision is the first to rule that sex-change operations qualify as medical care and overturns a 2005 Internal Revenue Service policy denying medical expense deductions in such operations on the grounds they are ‘cosmetic.”

The article uses the phrase “sex reassignment surgeries” only once and then reverts to variations of the “sex change” phrase, which seems to be true for most other similar stories.

My admittedly unscientific scanning of headlines online in the mainstream media seemed to overwhelmingly find that variations on the “sex change” phrase were the default, including obviously the Bloomberg story.

Here’s a smattering of them: “Woman says sex-change tax battle helps others” (Boston Herald); “Tax Court: Mass. woman can deduct sex change” (USA Today); and “Tax Court Allows Deduction for Woman’s Sex Change” (ABC News).

I found two exceptions. “Transgender Surgery is Officially Deductible” was the headline for a story on this topic at The Huffington Post.

At Pam’s House Blend, “GLAD Wins Case vs. IRS on Sex Reassignment Deductions” was the headline they used for their story, but they took it from the GLAD press release.

I certainly understand the need to use short phrases for headlines. Nonetheless, the two previous examples demonstrate that the “sex change” phrase was not the only option.

The use of “sex change” versus “sex reassignment surgery” is not addressed in the NLGJA stylebook. I’d like to hear comments on the distinction between these phrases and the use of “sex change” in these headlines.

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