Transgender Health Care: Equality & Insurance for the Trans & LGBTQ Community
Let’s talk about transgender health care; My name is blossom Brown I’m 28 years old I attend Mississippi University for women here in Columbus Mississippi. I am a public health education major, I’m a trans health advocate, I’ve been featured in a couple of campaigns and I’ve done a lot of volunteer work.
We need to help change what it’s completely wrong about society deciding who is deserving of health care and who isn’t, what is normal and what isn’t, because if you’re assigned male at birth and you have low testosterone then clearly we must help you fit into your role in society and give you more testosterone to help you out. If you were not assigned male at birth and you want to take testosterone well that’s just weird and you’re a freak and we are not going to cover that, you’ll just have to deal with it.
Transgender mental health care is health care for trans people and it’s often the same sort of health care that other people are getting but for different reasons.
Trans health care is an LGBT equality issue because if we want to be able to enjoy all of the rights and protections that we’re fighting so hard for as a movement we need health. However, for transgender people there’s that extra step of people’s identities being bound up in whether they’re able to be who they truly are, to look in the mirror every morning and recognize the face that’s looking back at them.
Let’s talk transgender health insurance, I’m not covered through trans insurance and I do have to pay out-of-pocket despite me being a struggling college student. If there comes a time where I truly cannot afford my hormones it would definitely do something to my physical mental and emotional state of well-being.
Trans people encounter discrimination in pretty much every area of their lives, if your name doesn’t match your Social Security card, if you’re telling them you want to be called by one name but all this documentation says another. Then it costs you money to change the documentation but you don’t have money because you don’t have a job, then they don’t hire you because the documentation doesn’t match, this is all a vicious cycle.
The trans community is full of individuals that the system pushes aside, they can’t seem to get ahead in any way in society. If you can’t get a job so in turn you can’t save money, so you can’t get health care, so you can’t do anything, you have to just sort of live the best you can.
There are a number of states that have non-discrimination laws that are inclusive of gender identity but still only about half of states actually have protections from discrimination on the basis of gender identity.
So what is actually happening on the national level, there has been a bill that was introduced at the end of July called the Equality Act which would add gender identity as well as sexual orientation to the protections of existing federal civil rights laws, nationwide in scope, it will clarify that discrimination is not permitted against transgender people or against any member of the LGBT community.
Transgender health insurance in the United States is largely a for-profit industry and the way that you make profit in health insurance coverage is actually by discriminating. If you call them and ask oh hey I have a prescription for testosterone, then they will say yes if you are a cis person but say no if you are a trans person.
The Affordable Care Act has been around for more than five years and there still are no regulations implementing section 1557, the provision of the Affordable Care Act, that explicitly includes these non-discrimination protections. So the law is already in force however without the clarity for helping people understand what their rights actually are. Therefore, the covered entities under the act such as hospitals for examples, subject to the law, are need given adequate help so they understand what their responsibilities are, this is unclear even to the providers (entities) currently.
So the fact that there are no regulations implementing section 1557, this is a massive problem. There is not a lot of education as part of medical school or nursing school curricula right now about who transgender people are and how to work with a transgender person through gender transition.
Then also just in terms of everyday health care, even well-meaning, people don’t actually have a lot of training they don’t know what trans people need and sometimes even when they are. So, these professional don’t know how to treat us properly as they don’t have the training, they don’t know what we need in terms of healthcare.
Trans individuals need to know that health care exists for them; it’s already hard enough when you don’t connect to your body and are not able to convince yourself you’re okay.
Going to a doctor as a transgender person is filled with anxiety and the knowledge or perception of the doctor basically treating you as a second class or even third class citizen makes it even harder.
Trans people are constantly put in the position of being told that their bodies do not belong to them that they are not able to get the transgender health care services that they need. I think of a lot of issues that people encounter with the healthcare system not being able to get what they need because of this double standard of being told that some people’s health care needs are more real than our own needs.