LANSING, Mich. — Gay and transgender Americans will be protected against sex discrimination in health care under U.S. law after the Biden administration reversed a Trump-era policy.
The Trump administration defined “sex” as “gender assigned at birth” rather than gender identity, deliberately excluding transgender Americans from protection under the federal law, despite last year’s 6-3 Supreme Court ruling that federal law protects gay and transgender Americans against sex discrimination in the workplace
“The research shows that one-quarter of all LGBTQ people have faced discrimination or postponed or avoided receiving needed medical care out of fear of further discrimination," said Erin Knott, executive director for Equality Michigan, "and that just allows for preventative care to not occur in a timely fashion and disease to potentially take hold of the body and spread."
"We’re still in the middle of a global pandemic," she said, "and we know that the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted LGBTQ Michiganders. So, if you’re living in fear of discrimination and you think that you might have COVID, or another ailment for that matter, but you’re scared to go to the doctor, it provides negative health outcomes not only for you as an individual but for your immediate network and your community at large."
Knott said sex discrimination can be as simple as just being misgendered.
“We’ve had clients before that have experienced a brutal act of violence, have gone to the emergency room, and then been misgendered by the triage desk or the doctors themselves," she said. "So, you’ve already been victimized, you’re dealing with pain and suffering, and you’re scared, and then to be misgendered by a medical provider – it’s just insult to injury."
According to Knott, insurance companies will also need to be held accountable in addition to medical care providers, particularly where it concerns covering treatments for gender dysphoria, that is, discomfort or distress caused by a discrepancy between the gender that a person identifies as and the gender assigned at birth.
“Insurance companies right now can delay or deny care, and it’s my opinion and Equality Michigan’s opinion that medical decisions should be made by the individual and their doctor, and not by insurance companies."
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