TLDEF Featured in New York Times' Urgent Call for Transgender Health Equity

Our Lady J Happy holidays! Today’s New York Times features an extraordinary editorial entitled, "No Reason to Exclude Transgender Medical Care." We are proud to be featured in the editorial with a quote from TLDEF Executive Director Michael Silverman. And we are hopeful about the positive impact this editorial may have on the struggle for transgender health care rights.

The editorial surveys the landscape of recent victories and continuing challenges in access to health care for the transgender community. It documents the struggle of Our Lady J, a classical pianist, singer, and writer for the television series “Transparent.”

Her story reminds us of the challenges that so many in the community face on a daily basis:

When Our Lady J learned this fall that the Writers Guild of America health plan, which provides an insurance plan for writers in Hollywood, does not cover transition-related care, she was distraught. It reminded her of a darker time in her life, when she was suicidal and struggled with substance abuse, largely as a result of being unable to afford the medical care she needed.

For over a decade, we’ve worked ceaselessly on behalf of community members who have been unable to get the basic medical care they need. Treatment by health care providers characterized by harassment and abuse - rather than dignity and respect - has often been the norm. Requests for help challenging the denial of health insurance coverage remain one of the most frequent calls we get.

But the tide is turning in our favor. In September, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a proposed rule saying most policies that categorically exclude gender transition care are discriminatory under the Affordable Care Act. In November, we submitted comments urging HHS to adopt the rule in the most expansive manner possible to achieve the goal of ending discrimination against transgender people.

This may well mark a transformational moment. But as TLDEF Executive Director Michael Silverman told the Times, the path ahead will not be easy, and old habits die hard.

“[W]e will still see a period of time when entrenched attitudes and misconceptions continue to prevail,” he said. “Many people still don’t think of this as medically necessary care, so they reflexively deny claims because that’s what they’ve always done.”

Working together, we will press forward to ensure that we live in a nation where everyone has access to the care they need and where transgender people can finally reap the full benefits of our nation’s health care law.

We will not rest until that is the case. Please make a donation today to support our work.

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