During Pride Month 2020, in the depths of a global pandemic, the world seemed to stand still with a national lockdown that urged its citizens to stay indoors to curve the death toll from Covid-19. The day was June 12th and most of the LBGT population was mourning the loss of the 49 souls that were violently killed during the Pulse Massacre that happened four years prior to the day. Halfway through the afternoon, breaking news spread across the US that transgender healthcare protections had been reversed by the Trump Administration. This came as a stinging blow to the transgender community who are now left vulnerable to discrimination that could leave them without access to healthcare and insurance protections.
This is a call to action for equal access to healthcare and insurance for the transgender population. This will give you short-term and long-term actionable items that will help secure equal access to healthcare for the transgender population in the United States.
The new regulation that the Trump Administration and The Department of Health and Human Services has proposed will ultimately erase protections for transgender patients against discrimination by doctors, hospitals and health insurance companies. What does the new ruling do? It basically narrows the legal definition of sex discrimination so that it does not include protections for transgender individuals. This leaves the door wide open for discrimination, financial hardships, and literally life and death situations for an already vulnerable community during a global pandemic.
Here are a few scenarios that could be a direct result of overturning Equal Access for Transgender Healthcare. A Transgender individual who has full healthcare coverage could walk into a hospital needing medical attention, and they can be turned away because of their transgender status by the medical personnel. On the other hand, that same Transgender person can be turned away because their insurance could deny the claim (even if it was an in-network provider). Another scenario could be that an insurance company can charge a higher rate for a “Transgender Healthcare Plan” that may, or may not, have less benefits, and then still deny them their benefits.
The ACLU States that “The proposed rule removes explicit protections for transgender, non-binary, and gender nonconforming people, as well as for people seeking, or who have obtained, services related to pregnancy, childbirth, and abortion.” In the United States most people rely on medical insurance that is provided by their employer, so that is what we will focus on in this Call to Action.
As it stands now, there are multiple different companies and organizations that are actively fighting back to repeal the new ruling that will go into effect by mid-August. The ACLU has stated that it would sue to overturn this ruling, The Los Angeles LGBT Center has joined a lawsuit filed by Lambda Legal and Steptoe & Johnson LLP challenging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and The Human Rights Campaign announced it would file a lawsuit.
During Pride Month multiple companies sell Pride merchandise, run Pride focused add campaigns, and come out in support of LGBT+ community. Well Pride month is over, and we need those companies to stand up and support our causes. Major corporations need to stand with the ACLU, the HRC, and Lambda Legal or they need to support them in their efforts. If you are reading this and you are the CEO, or the Director of a company make an executive decision and stand with them, if you are an employee urge the company that you work for to stand with them, if you have a friend in a position of power ask them to draw attention to this cause. The more that major corporations stand up against this ruling the faster it will be dealt with. During these conversations remind them that this could cost the life of an employee, this could result in the loss of an employee’s spouse, or their children. Inform them that this is not a moment for silence, this is the moment for action. This is the long-term goal. To overturn this ruling and restoring Equal Access to Healthcare for Transgender individuals.
The short-term goal is to secure equal access to as many transgender people as possible, as soon as possible. Corporations ultimately hire health inures to provide health care coverage to its employees. This means that the corporations have the upper hand. The corporation needs to reach out to the insurance company and demand that they do not make any changes to their coverage based on transgender identity and have them legally bound to ensure that they will not discriminate against anyone or change their healthcare benefits. Once this is established then the company can and should come out about it publicly through social media or an add campaign that they support equal access to healthcare and that everyone under their company is protected. This could cause a chain reaction where company after company would ensure that their employees, and their dependents are safe from insurance discrimination.
Having companies secure its employee is the most actionable item and it has already begun. Last week I had the pleasure of speaking with the Directors and the CEO of a fortune 500 company that employs over 60 thousand people worldwide. I spoke of my Call to Action. Their Human Resource department has already begun to speak to their insurance providers. They are already looking into the best solution to ensure that no one slips through the cracks of this new ruling. My Call to Action is already working, it just needs to spread like a wildfire. When you go into work, tell your manager about this Call to Action, talk to your Human Resource Department about it, or contact some who can or who will.
There is no time to waste. Without change in mid August, transgender, non-binary, and gender nonconforming people will no longer have equal access to healthcare or insurance coverage during a global pandemic.
The new ruling could also affect people seeking, or who have obtained, services related to pregnancy, childbirth, and abortion. This is not acceptable. This is cruel, inhumane, and a direct attack on the transgender community. Take action with me! You do not have to be transgender to help. You do not need to be part of the LGBT+ Community to help. We need everyone to help spread awareness and to take action. Every moment that is lost could cost someone their life, or their life savings. Open up these conversations, use the resources that you have, reach out with intention, and demand results. Be the change that the world needs, people’s lives depend on it, my life depends on it.