Cleveland Orchestra is sued by transgender staffer

Cleveland Orchestra is sued by transgender staffer


norman lebrecht

August 18, 2022

A Cleveland-born web designer called Rem Wransky, 29, is suing the Cleveland Orchestra over its refusal to pay for genital surgery.

The case is complicated by more than just issues of gender and we will refrain from comment until there is judgement.

The most lucid account can be read here.




  • kaf says:

    For anyone who has gone through the Kafkaesque American healthcare/insurance system, even for the most routine of procedures, it really is not that complicated as to who the bad guys are.

    How many Americans have experienced getting a “free” Covid antigenic test just to get a bill a month later full of unannounced hidden charges and fees in the hundreds of dollars that both the provider refuses to take away and the insurance company refuses to pay…

    Don’t let the gender issues distract us, it could be a routine procedure and we would still have this fight between provider and insurance company, the patient is simply caught in the middle of a “profit war” between 2 very wealthy entities.

  • Fenway says:

    Man, could I have a field day with this one…

    • JoshW says:

      How nice, Fenway, that someone else’s pain and humiliation is a source of unlimited humor for you.

      • Fenway says:

        It should have kept God given equipment. BTW, my pronouns are kiss my ass…

        • Keith Jones says:

          Hahaha…er, that’s not funny.
          My preferred pronouns are “your highness”
          or “my lord.” Either one is acceptable.
          The left eats itself as it must.

  • Alank says:

    I intend to sue my employer for not providing hay in the galley kitchen since I now self identify as a horse. We horses don’t drink coffee or tea and so provisions should be equally provided to all regardless of their species identification.

    • Kaf says:

      You’re clearly not a horse, but an ass.

      • Alank says:

        I was just waiting for that reply. Thank you! The fact of the matter is that we are in the second age of Lysenkoism. This a baloney science and this craze will destroy the lives of thousands of innocent children who will receive hormone blockers and disfigure their bodies forever. Genders and species are not social constructs but are the expression of ones genetic make up. If the person wants to submit to sexual reassignment surgery than let him pay for it; the CO is under no obligation to see its health insurance rates skyrocket to appease one person’s dissatisfaction with his inherited genes. BTW, the NIH did a study about 10 years ago and found approximately 0.3 percent of youth suffered from sexual dysphoria. i just saw an article that said some 6 to 7 percent of children now undergo this confusion. Great news for the future of the west

      • PaulD says:

        No, he is not. Some people now self-identify as “cake gender”, so equine identification seems perfectly acceptable. I do wonder, however, if workplaces will be required to remove cake-cutting implements so that said employees do not feel threatened. Say “goodbye” to the office birthday party.

    • Gerry Feinsteen says:

      I always find it interesting that in the commonly chanted phrase: Be Yourself it once meant everything from coloring one’s hair, piercing one’s tongue, tattooing one’s face, and now further (and more permanent) overhauls of one’s identity. ‘Be Yourself’ has become somewhat of a paradox, in one sense.

      It is a tricky issue for any company or institution to tiptoe around. Indeed, the whole topic is deeply personal, and yet still a rather recent phenomenon. One can only send support to those whose lives have been troubled by all that being born in the wrong body entails. The English-speaking world is still working out how to organize with this piece of its societal puzzle.

      One cannot overlook the financial benefit for the new (?) part of the medical industry that handles these operations. Certainly the operations are warranted, but very little study or documentation exists (yet) on the long-term positive/negative effects from these operations.
      There are enough people who have stepped forward voicing their regrets to, at the least, raise a red flag about the ease with which these operations can take place in some jurisdictions.

      We have all been born from the womb of a woman. This we know.

      • Bone says:

        Some would say your comment is transphobic and based on poor understanding of gender identity.
        Some would say your comment is rational and based on science.
        I find myself oddly conflicted: although this surgery was clearly elective, it would seem SCOTUS has given clear instructions to insurance companies about acceptable policy. On the face, the “no transgender” policy of this particular company seems to be out of compliance.
        For now, we are still a nation of laws: regardless of personal feelings, the surgery seems to be part of covered expenses. JMHO

    • Conner says:

      Lol, You should make your pronouns
      “Horse/Horsi/Horses’ ”

      Honestly though this is so ridiculous!
      We have a global neo oligarchy and environmental destabilization, and yet this is the kind of stuff we are talking about?… Paying a fortune for people to mutilate their bodies as a supposed solution to their developmental trauma?

      This is bizarre upper-middle-class narcissism cloaking itself as victimhood and enlightenment.
      Now everyone is walking around with green hair and “being their true authentic selves”.

      Come to your senses people. This is functioning as a distraction from real issues and is a way for the medical industry to create lifelong cash cows.

  • Chicagorat says:

    Very interesting read. It is reasonable to assume that the Cleveland Orchestra could have made the business decision to exclude this type of surgery because of how expensive it is, and not due to a transphobic posture.

    Speaking of transphobic postures in classical music, once again Muti leads the way, and readers should get acquainted with his thoughts on the issue here:

    Not by chance, Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy’s far right, has posted Muti’s interview to his own Facebook account here:

    (As a parenthesis, Muti is often idolized and quoted by the Italian far right also because of other interviews where the Maestro, echoing Trump, perpetuates the stereotype of immigrants as criminals, here:

    The Chicago Symphony is not known to have condemned the statements of their Music Director. Are they transphobic? Are they racist?

    We also reserve judgement until all the facts are in.

    • The View from America says:

      Happy to see that you’re continuing to subscribe to the AMAT premium channel.

      Keeping the dial on “All Muti All the Time” is such a productive and fulfilling way to spend the day …

    • Novagerio says:

      Oh rats, here he goes again, bashing Muti at any given opportunity. See a doctor man!

    • Anthony Sayer says:

      He’s just articulating what hundreds of millions al over the world feel.

  • Save the MET says:

    I would suggest the orchestra would not pay for cosmetic breast enhancement or rhinoplasty surgery either. Generally these sort of elective surgeries are the responsibility of the individual.

  • PR professional says:

    Poor woman, sounds ghastly. Cleveland should have saved themselves the inevitable lawsuit and just paid for the surgery, a misstep to hide behind bureaucracy from a PR perspective.

    I commend SD for taking the grown-up view of not commenting. Then again, what comment could you possibly make other than to sympathize with someone who has been subject to contractual discrimination?

    • Save the MET says:

      Insurance companies tell you specifically in their policy what they will and will not pay for. I suspect gender reassignment surgery is not covered in this instance. Will likely be tossed out of court.

      • DS says:

        Please read the article before comments, she already went through the gender surgery before, She is asking to be covered with a new surgery the doctors also think necessary to deal with certain pain, yet the coverage was denied.

      • Legal Beagle says:

        What is right morally is much more important from a PR perspective than who is right legally.

        The point the plaintiff makes is that the procedure would be necessary for anyone with a vagina regardless of whether they were born with it or not, therefore the policy should not apply. It’s an interesting one from a legal perspective, and an important challenge to test discriminatory policies.

        But.. the first commenter is right, finding another mechanism to pay for this procedure without precedent would have been a sensible choice.

      • La plus belle voix says:

        Toss being the operative verb.

  • M McAlpine says:

    Never quite sure just what the term ‘trans woman’ means these days. Is it a man who has ‘become’ a woman or the other way round? The problem is that the PC rules change so quickly that it is very difficult to keep up with them.

    • Legal Beagle says:

      The term has been the same for 25 years. It means a woman who was assigned male at birth.

      Honestly, you could have looked it up in one 10th the time it took to write a fatuous comment.

      • James Minch says:

        It means a man (i.e. someone with XY chromosomes) who wants to be treated as a woman. Until very recently, this was considered a mental illness by psychiatrists and it seems the vast majority of people still think it is madness. ‘Assigned male at birth’ is meaningless.

      • Bone says:

        “Assigned male at birth.” Please stop the nonsense. “Had a male sexual organ and chose to have it removed” would be more honest.

  • Johannes says:

    Hi Norman,
    It is interesting to see that Franz is one of your “favourites” and you have a good relationship with him.
    If this was somebody else or a different institution (say, The Met/ Peter Gelb) you would hardly hesitate to unleash your judgement upon them with the same evidence.

  • JoshW says:

    Cleveland Orchestra: We are completely against any discriminatory action except when we do it and call it something else.

  • don says:

    It’s he/she/them/zer/xer’s choice! Why should the Cleveland orchestra have to pay for somebody’s choice? What if i want to make my breasts larger or balls bigger? They should pay for that too? How is an employer legally responsible for purely elective and cosmetic surgery? How ridiculous.

  • J Barcelo says:

    She said “My body is not doing well.” No kidding. That’s because it’s a man’s body and no amount of re-working the plumbing is ever going to change that. If the surgery is needed to relieve pain, then yes, the orchestra’s insurance should cover it. But that Chop-it-off-of-me surgery? That was a bad idea. It’s not nice to fool mother nature.

  • MMcG says:

    How does one manage the stress of impending major surgery, having gender questions AND engaging in a law suit – all while having a demanding day-job that provides the health insurance one requires and pays the lawyer. Truly heroic stamina!

  • Smiling Larry says:

    Were Michael Jackson’s numerous nose jobs covered by insurance? Just asking.