Fighting Transgender Discrimination in Healthcare: What Are Your Options?

Fighting Transgender Discrimination in Healthcare: What Are Your Options?

Susan R.  Miller
 | 
Demi Lovato recently revealed she is non-binary.

This news comes just as President Joe Biden recently vowed to fight for full equality for the LGBTQ community by codifying protections into law. Since taking office, the president has promised to restore civil rights protections for LGBTQ people that were eliminated by the previous administration.

 
He recently  restored healthcare protections for transgender people, which President Trump had eliminated. 
 
Those protections are in line with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling issued in June 2020 that found the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay, lesbian, and transgender employees from discrimination based on sex.
 
Steps to Take If You Face Discrimination
 
“The Supreme Court has made clear that people have a right not to be discriminated against on the basis of sex and receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra in a news release. “Fear of discrimination can lead individuals to forgo care, which can have serious negative health consequences. It is the position of the Department of Health and Human Services that everyone – including LGBTQ people – should be able to access health care, free from discrimination or interference, period.”
 
As a result of HHS’ announcement, anyone who believes they, or a family member, are being refused healthcare based on their sexual orientation or gender identity can file a complaint with HHS Office of Civil Rights. Seeking assistance from an attorney who handles discrimination cases is another option.
 
Can a Healthcare Provider Refuse Treatment?
 
Although the American Medical Association (AMA) ethics rules prohibit doctors from refusing to provide treatment to a patient based on sexual orientation or gender identity, studies have shown that one quarter of LGBTQ people who faced discrimination postponed or avoided receiving needed medical care for fear of further discrimination.
 
It is estimated that some 1.4 million adults in the U.S. identify as transgender, according to the Williams Institute, the leading research center on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy.
 
A survey conducted by the Center for American Progress found that among transgender people, 29 percent of those surveyed said a doctor or healthcare provider refused to see them because of their gender identity. And 12 percent of transgender respondents said a healthcare provider refused to give them care related to gender transition.
 
While there are instances in which a healthcare provider can refuse to treat a patient, under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is illegal for them to deny treatment based on the patient’s age, sex, race, sexual orientation, religion, or national origin. If you feel you have been unfairly denied treatment, and as a result your condition worsened, you may have a medical malpractice claim. It’s best to seek out a medical malpractice attorney to learn your options. You can check out our lawyer search to find one here.
 
An Uphill Battle

 
Ensuring that transgender individuals get the healthcare they need likely will continue to be an uphill battle. In 2021, more than 30 states introduced anti-transgender legislation. Freedom for all Americans is tracking legislation relating to anti-transgender medical care bans. For example, in April the Arkansas Legislature overrode the governor’s veto and passed a bill that bans gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth. Some Texas lawmakers tried, but failed, to pass a bill that would have banned gender reassignment for minors, not by targeting patients, but by going after doctors who prescribe puberty blockers or perform sex-changing surgeries.
 
Laws, particularly those relating to LGBTQ rights, are in a constant state of flux and often complex. If you think you have been discriminated against by a healthcare professional based on your sexual orientation or gender identity consult with an attorney who can advise you of your rights.

 
This article is intended to convey generally useful information only and does not constitute legal advice. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the author, not LawChamps.
 
 
 
 
Susan R.  Miller

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