Despite changing its Twitter profile pic to include a rainbow, Dark Horse still used Twitter to explain why they dont cover trans-specific health care.
Despite changing its Twitter profile pic to include a rainbow, Dark Horse still used Twitter to explain why they don't cover trans-specific health care.

As Portland approaches Pride weekend, it seems like every business in town is scrambling to be the MOST PRIDEFUL (or, proudest?) by hosting Pride dance parties, creating Pride-themed drink specials, selling heaps of rainbow swag, or even hosting a Pride-related crossfit competition.

Dark Horse Comics, which is headquartered in the Portland suburb of Milwaukie, joined in the annual tradition of capitalizing on a marginalized community (which, in itself, is a whole other topic). This Pride, they decided to offer an online sale on LGBTQ-positive comics.

But this seemingly harmless decision has put Dark Horse in the center of a serious discussion over transgender inclusivity. And they're not coming out on top.

On June 9, Dark Horse posted a link to their Pride sale on Twitter (where they've changed the background to their avatar to feature a rainbow). Jay Edidin, a trans man and former Dark Horse employee, clapped back.

The policy that Edidin has drawn attention to may be a civil rights violation. According to Oregon law, it's illegal to "exclude 'Gender Identity Disorders' or 'Treatment for Gender Identity Disorder' because this is on its face discrimination based on sexual orientation."

But, as Edidin explains, Dark Horse offers health insurance that is "self-insured," allowing them to sneak through one of the few loopholes in the state's mandatory trans healthcare policy. Most employee health policies are "fully-insured," meaning the employer pays a premium to an insurance provider to handle all insurance claims. A self-insured company dodges that premium cost by operating their own health care plan. It's often a cost-saving option, and is weirdly exempt from state laws.

Edidn's concerns didn't go unnoticed, sparking a conversation online among the trans community, civil rights lawyers, and people in the comics world—including Dark Horse.

Here's how Dark Horse chose to respond:

In other words, Dark Horse executives admit that they don't pay for trans-specific health care—but that's because it's just too darn expensive and also very complicated to explain. But it's still part of their company mission to be as inclusive as possible, so. You're welcome?

Edidin breaks down Dark Horse's problematic response:

It's not the first time the local comics business made headlines for problematic HR decisions. In 2015, a former employee came forward with sexual harassment allegations against Dark Horse Editor-in-Chief Scott Allie. Soon, other employees began sharing their own experiences as the target of Allie's alleged harassment, citing a "company culture" that ignores harassment complaints. In September 2017, Allie resigned from Dark Horse.

Edidin's posts have inspired a number of folks in the comics community to say they'll stop buying Dark Horse products. But that wasn't necessarily his goal.