If convicted, medical professionals face up to 10 years in prison and a hefty fine for providing what researchers argue is ‘life-saving’ care to trans minors.
Ivey’s signature makes Alabama the latest state in the US to pass legislation restricting gender-affirming care after Arkansas, Tennessee and Arizonapassed various anti-trans healthcare bans. But Alabama is the first state to impose criminal penalties for such care, according to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).
Two doctors and two families of trans kids have filed a lawsuit against the state, challenging the new law which is set to go into effect on 8 May.
The families said in the complaint, which was filed on Monday (11 April), that being denied the medically necessary treatment will be devastating to the mental health of their children. The lawsuit alleges that the new Alabama law violates the Affordable Care Act and the equal protection clause of the US Constitution.
One plaintiff, referred to as Robert Roe, is the father of a 13-year-old trans girl who is called Mary in the lawsuit. The complaint detailed how it is “essential for Mary’s mental health” that she can receive “puberty-blocking medications every three months” and can receive future medical treatments that her healthcare providers determine are “medically necessary to treat her gender dysphoria”.
“For Mary to be forced to go through male puberty would be devastating; it would predictably result in her experiencing isolation, depression, anxiety and distress,” the lawsuit continued. “Mary’s parents are also concerned that without access to the puberty-blocking medication she needs, Mary would resort to self-harm as a means of coping with her psychological distress or even attempt suicide.”
Roe said in a press release by the HRC, which is supporting the lawsuit, described how his family has seen “our daughter change from being reclusive and anxious to being an engaged, happy child” after being able to access the “care she needs” to flourish.
But he said this law threatens “all of this” and “takes away our ability to follow the advice of highly qualified medical professionals”.
“I was born and raised in Alabama and came back here with my wife to raise our family,” Roe said. “We love this community which has shown us incredible support. But if this law goes into effect we may be forced to leave the state we call home in order to protect our daughter’s life.”
The parents of another trans teen, referred to as John Doe, described in the lawsuit how starting hormone therapy had been “amazing” for the 17-year-old as he was finally able to feel “more like himself, building greater confidence” and is now “happier overall”.
However, the lawsuit said that John will suffer “devastating physical and psychological consequences” if the trans healthcare ban goes into effect. According to the lawsuit, the teen’s healthcare will be “disrupted” as he won’t be able to access “medications his physicians have prescribed to treat his gender dysphoria” if the law goes into effect and won’t be able to undergo gender-affirming surgery until he “reaches the age of majority, which in Alabama is age 19”.
Dr Morissa Ladinsky, a third plaintiff, works at the Children’s Hospital of Alabama alongside another plaintiff, Dr Hussein D Abdul-Latif. Both physicians provide medical care to trans youth in Alabama.
The lawsuit described how Dr Ladinsky has treated and is currently treating “dozens of trans youth people for gender dysphoria” – including the two trans teens listed in the complaint – in her role as a paediatrician as well as co-lead of the multi-disciplinary gender clinic at the UAB Hospital.
Dr Ladinsky said in a statement that governor Ivey has told “kind, loving and loyal Alabama families that they cannot stay here without denying their children the basic medical care they need” by signing the trans healthcare ban.
“She has undermined the health and well-being of Alabama children and put doctors like me in the horrifying position of choosing between ignoring the medical needs of our patients or risking being sent to prison,” she said.
The plaintiffs are represented by a host of LGBT+ and civil rights organisations including the Southern Poverty Law Center, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the HRC with King & Spalding LLP and Lightfoot, Franklin & White LLC.
To mark the 12th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) is hosting a weeklong celebration to praise its accomplishments. But in the name of health equity for transgender people, who are adversely affected by HIV/AIDS, HHS is also asking for more.
In a letter shared exclusively with LGBTQ Nation, the HIV/AIDS Bureau (HAB) of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is asking the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP) to leverage its existing infrastructure and resources to not only continue providing direct HIV/AIDS care to transgender people, but to provide gender-affirming care as well.
Established thirty years ago, RWHAP serves low-income people with HIV. Today, approximately 50% of those diagnosed with HIV receive support through it annually.
Rates of HIV viral suppression among transgender patients of RWHAP are lower than the organization’s overall average – 84.5 percent versus 89.4 percent. As such, the letter says more must be done to ensure transgender people are not left behind.
“HRSA’s HIV/AIDS Bureau sent this to Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program service providers to reaffirm the importance of providing culturally-affirming health care and social services to the transgender community as a key component to improving the lives of transgender people with HIV and eliminating health disparities,” Dr. Laura Cheever, Associate Administrator of the HRSA HIV/AIDS Bureau, told LGBTQ Nation.
“While not a new policy or approach to the services delivered by the program, The letter builds on initiatives that support patient-centered, trauma-informed, and inclusive environments of care for Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program clients. The goal is to help reduce medical mistrust and other barriers to antiretroviral therapy adherence for transgender people with HIV.”
The letter asserts that “providing gender-affirming care is an important strategy to effectively address the health and medical needs of transgender people with HIV.” The program, it says, already serves about 11,600 trans people (2.1% of those served overall) that would benefit from these services.
It goes on to say that funds directed toward RWHAP are allowed to be used for certain types of gender-affirming care and support, including hormone therapy, behavioral and mental health services for those experiencing discrimination and/or gender dysphoria, and cost-sharing assistance for insurance coverage, which would give trans people greater access to the care they need. It also said several RWHAP AIDS Drug Assistance Programs already provide access to hormone therapy.
Because it is an outpatient ambulatory health care program, though, the letter says RWHAP cannot provide surgeries or inpatient care.
The letter also urges RWHAP to provide other types of support to transgender people living with HIV/AIDS, such as housing, case management, and treatment services for substance abuse.
The letter, signed by Cheever, emphasizes the need to “provide affirming, whole person care to transgender people with HIV.”
“This is true especially of Black and Hispanic/Latino/a transgender women who are disproportionally impacted by HIV and other intersecting social and health challenges,” it says.
“While transgender Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program clients receiving HIV medical care have reached higher viral suppression rates than the national average, we recognize that we need to do more to support this community,” Cheever said in a press release.
“To help achieve the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, including achieving health equity and ending the HIV epidemic, we will continue to support and share evidence based, evidence informed, and emerging interventions that focus on the specific needs of this community to improve the health and lives of transgender and gender diverse people with HIV.”
Also in recognition of the 12th anniversary of the ACA, HHS is hosting a weeklong celebration, with each day focusing on different communities the ACA has reached.
Today’s focus is “Celebrating Health of LGBTQI+ and Communities of Color.” According to HHS, the ACA has reduced the number of uninsured LGBTQ people by almost 50% since 2010.
Since taking office, the Biden administration has also restored an ACA provision banning discrimination in its health care programs on the basis of sex, which includes sexual orientation and gender identity.
HHS also said the ACA has also helped community organizations dedicate more resources to HIV/AIDS care through RWHAP.
A trans teenager was shot and killed by her own father in Georgia, United States, in what has been described as a “horrific tragedy”.
Kathryn “Katie” Newhouse, 19, was killed on 19 March, according to officers at Cherokee County Police who found both her and her father, Howard Newhouse, 57, dead in their home.
According to Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents, who wrote a blog post about Newhouse’s death, the teen was a “Minecraft and UberSpire enthusiast, an advocate for trans rights” and “had a bright smile”.
The blog post continued: “A native of Illinois, Kathryn was most recently living with her family in Canton, Georgia.
“Kathryn was a Minecraft and UberSpire enthusiast, an advocate for trans rights, had a bright smile, enjoyed changing up her hairstyles, and attentive to world events.”
“She enjoyed hiking and sightseeing. She was proud of her AAPI [Asian American and Pacific Islander] heritage; she was of Filipino heritage…
“Kathryn’s death is a horrific tragedy and she deserves to still be here with us.”
Newhouse’s brother Chris explained to CBS46 news that his sister was autistic and had lived with mental health issues.
“A tragic culmination of all of these different mental health issues that kind of compounded and led to such a, escalated to a situation that – it shouldn’t have happened, but it happened,” he said.
At least six other trans, non-binary and gender-conforming people have been violently killed in the US in 2022 so far, according to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which has been monitoring the wave of brutality since 2013.
HRC said in a statement: “HRC works to shed light on this epidemic of violence in order to ensure victims’ lives are remembered with dignity, and to work to end the stigma that so many trans and gender non-conforming people face…
“While the details of these cases differ, it is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of colour – particularly Black transgender women – and that the intersections of racism, sexism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and unchecked access to guns conspire to deprive them of employment, housing, healthcare and other necessities.”
For years, Mandy (not her real name), a trans sex worker, used to commute two hours from Bristol to London just to access non-judgemental sexual healthcare.
“When I went to Bristol’s central clinic for a sexual health check-up, they told me they ‘don’t know how to deal with people like me,’” she tells PinkNews. “I even experienced having a student nurse brought in to look at my post-operative vagina.” This humiliating experience made her determined to find more inclusive services, but doing so was far from easy.
In Mandy’s eyes, “finding clinicians that are able to handle my trans body and my sex work was an uphill struggle”.
“I basically had to travel 100 miles just to get tested in an environment and a situation that didn’t traumatise me,” she says.
At first, she sought out sex worker-friendly clinics, like the Spittal Street Women’s Clinic in Edinburgh. These were a marked improvement, she says, but nothing compared to the care she received at CliniQ, a trans-led sexual health and wellbeing service based in London.
Services like these are still all too rare, but the last few years have seen a tiny handful of other openly trans-inclusive sexual health services crop up across the UK, many of them trans-led.
A handful of these services only have limited hours, but they still represent a vital step forward in the fight for accessible trans sexual healthcare. More importantly, they demonstrate a clear demand for such services.
The Butterfly Clinic first opened its doors back in 2018. After briefly closing throughout the pandemic, the Liverpool-based service is now open every Monday and Tuesday. “We offer a wide range of services,” a representative explains, “including vaccinations for Hepatitis A, B and HPV where appropriate. We can also initiate and manage [HIV prevention medication] PEP and PrEP.”
Clinic lead Hayley cites an appointment with a trans sex worker as a landmark moment in her decision to spearhead the Butterfly Clinic. “The patient was using sex work to fund their transition, and they spoke about the barriers they had faced,” Hayley recalls. “I asked them why they had decided to come for a sexual health screening after so many years of avoiding appointments, to which they replied: “I’ve always looked after myself from a safety and security point of view, but I had neglected my health.”
It was an epiphany of sorts for Hayley, who hadn’t previously recognised the dire need for a trans-specific service.
The Butterfly Clinic is provided by axxess sexual health, who were immediately supportive of the idea. “After being given the go-ahead, I first reached out at Liverpool Pride, which got a great response,” continues Hayley. Since then, she’s worked with local support groups and other trans-led organisations to ensure a gold standard of trans-specific care.
For trans people long accustomed to feeling let down by professionals, the feeling of being treated fairly and taken seriously can be hugely affirming.
The first time 25-year-old Harry went to 56T in London, he found himself amazed that practitioners actually knew how to help him. “My questions were mainly around whether or not the pill (which I thought must have some kind of hormone in it) would interact with my testosterone, what contraceptives would be available to me other than condoms and what would be my risks of HIV exposure as a a gay trans man,” he tells PinkNews.
Previously, Harry had broached some of these concerns with other sexual health clinicians, but he was told he would have to seek out a “specialist” – a gender clinic practitioner in other words.
But of course, gender clinics have endless waiting lists, and their practitioners aren’t specifically trained to answer sexual health questions. As a result, Harry found himself at a loss for answers.
This wasn’t the case at 56T. “I don’t have periods, so the clinic was able to offer me a pregnancy test if I was worried I might be pregnant,” he explains. “They really knew their stuff and made me feel at ease. I was told – through their trans-inclusive practice and approach – that my body wasn’t odd, unusual or strange. For the first time, professionals had answers to my questions. That felt really important.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the context of these backstories, plenty of trans people have long been reluctant to seek care.
According to 2019 research published in the British Medical Journal, “trans people were less likely to have attended a sexual health clinic in the past 12 months compared to cisgender people,” and those who did were “more likely to report experiencing discrimination in a medical setting [than cisgender people]”.
This discrimination often isn’t mild, either. The statistics show that “over four-fifths of trans participants had high or very high levels of psychological distress”.
At trans-led clinics, we’re treated with the care and attention we deserve.
Harry has found himself feeling anxious about the potential quality of care he’ll receive. “I’ve had sexual health professionals say ‘I’ve seen it all, nothing can surprise me, love!’” he says. “In my experience though, that’s not the case.”
In the past, Harry has had multiple clinicians say he’s the first trans person they’ve come into contact with. He recalls: “One time, the sexual health practitioner got confused and said that her manager would have to do the consultation instead.”
Chris Higgins, a fellow clinic lead at The Butterfly Clinic, has heard plenty of these horror stories. “The first we need to address is the high likelihood that the trans patients coming to us have previously had negative experiences. Without giving anecdotes, let’s just say these patients definitely need to have their trust earned.”
Sensitivity is key. “Being able to take a sexual history from a trans patient without them feeling the exercise is voyeuristic is important,” continued Higgins. “We ask questions that are necessary for best care, not out of a sense of personal interest or curiosity.”
Crucially, these environments also don’t treat trans people as “other,” which is rarely the case elsewhere. In fact, when it comes to mainstream healthcare providers helping trans people, it’s often too much about luck. There are online resources like trans subreddits and advocacy groups like Action for Trans Health to point people in the right direction, but largely, access to good trans healthcare relies on word-of-mouth recommendations from other trans people in the know.
Trans-led clinics are looking to remedy these issues. CliniQ in particular is known for taking a holistic approach; although it’s not a gender clinic, practitioners can give advice on hormones, mental illness and point people in the direction of peer mentoring schemes. The website also contains a valuable list of external resources, which feature advice on everything from homelessness to support for LGBT+ survivors of domestic violence.
In these trans-led sexual health clinics, there’s an understanding that trans bodies often work differently to cis bodies. “For us, our genitals are sometimes a source of trauma or difficulty,” continues Mandy, “and our bodies after surgical intervention don’t always operate the same as, or look the same as, their cis counterparts.”
These differences aren’t sensationalised in trans-led clinics, nor do they lead to intrusive, potentially triggering lines of questioning. “In these spaces, you’re able to say, as a man with muscles and a beard, ‘I’ve had some discoloured, unusual discharge from my vagina’ and nobody bats an eyelid,” says Harry. “We’re treated with the care and attention we deserve.”
Funding these services is no easy feat, though. It’s no secret that grassroots organisations have long been forced to plug holes in government provision; as a result, a handful of these clinics can only operate during strict opening hours due to funding restrictions, or they’re partially reliant on donations.
According to Mandy, a potential solution is to acknowledge the overlap between trans and sex worker populations, and to work to more closely integrate their services. “The two communities are intrinsically linked, and our lives often intersect in difficult ways,” she explains. “Sometimes it’s impossible to access a trans-specific clinic in places where there’s a sex worker clinic, and vice versa. Therefore, it’s vital that these services are able to cater to our needs.”
The rise of at-home testing
At-home testing has made a huge difference, too. Last year, a UK study found that HIV testing rates had trebled amongst trans communities due to the increased accessibility of at-home tests. “That doesn’t surprise me in the slightest,” says Harry, who believes “most people – not just trans people, or people who are anxious about their bodies – will find it easier to do tests in the comfort of their own home.”
However, there’s more to good sexual healthcare than just testing –– from PrEP and birth control to informed practitioners able to answer questions about hormones, treatment and much more, there’s still a huge need for more trans-specific clinics.
These healthcare issues are often reduced to hot-button, clickbait “debates” about inclusive language by right-wing commentators, but there are actual lives at stake when it comes to conversations around healthcare access.
At-home testing and trans-led clinics may be plugging vital gaps in UK healthcare, but there’s more funding, more education and more awareness needed to ensure more trans people can access them.
“I definitely welcome at-home testing,” concludes Harry, “but it can’t be treated as a replacement for good care and trans-inclusive training.”
An estimated 58,200 transgender youth and young adults ages 13 and older in the U.S. are at risk of being denied gender-affirming medical care due to proposed and enacted state bans and policies, according to the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.
As of March 18, 2022, 15 states have restricted access to gender-affirming care or are currently considering laws that would do so. These bills jeopardize access to care for 54,000 transgender youth ages 13-17—nearly one-third of the estimated 150,000 transgender youth in the U.S. More than 4,000 young adults ages 18 to 20 in Alabama, North Carolina, and Oklahoma would also be at risk of losing access to gender-affirming care under proposed bills that would apply to young people over the age of 18.
The bills carry severe penalties for health care providers, and sometimes families, who provide or seek out gender-affirming care for minors. About half of the bills prohibit insurance companies from offering coverage or restrict the use of state funds for gender-affirming care.
In February 2022, the governor of Texas issued an order restricting access to gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth, classifying it as “child abuse” and directing the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate any reported instances of health care providers or parents who provide or seek out gender-affirming care for children. The order impacts as many as 13,800 transgender youth in the state.
Gender-affirming medical care includes the use of hormones to delay puberty and to promote physical development that is consistent with a child’s gender identity. It is recommended for transgender youth by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Endocrine Society.
“A growing body of research shows that gender-affirming care improves mental health and overall well-being of transgender people, including youth,” said lead author Kerith J. Conron, the Blachford-Cooper Distinguished Scholar and Research Director at the Williams Institute. “Efforts that support transgender youth in living according to their gender identity are associated with better mental health.”
Prior research from the Williams Institute found that the risk of past-year suicide attempts was lower among transgender people who wanted and received gender-affirming medical care.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, a Republican, struck down a bill on Monday that would have banned transgender girls from competing in female sports at school — making him an outlier in a party that has passed similar laws in nearly a dozen states.
In a letter addressing his decision, Holcomb wrote that the bill “leaves too many unanswered questions.” He also challenged the need for state intervention.
“It implies that the goals of consistency and fairness in competitive female sports are not currently being met,” Holcomb said. “After thorough review, I find no evidence to support either claim even if I support the overall goal.”
A body found on the shore of Lake Michigan in a suburb of Chicago has been identified as trans rights activist Elise Malary.
Malary was last heard from on 9 March, and on 11 March she was reported as a missing person.
Although she was missing and her apartment had been left unlocked, police initially said there was no indication of foul play.
On Thursday, 17 March, a body was discovered by 19-year-old Tristan Lambach on the lakefront in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois. Policy later confirmed that it was Malary. She was just 31 years old.
Malary was a passionate activist who worked tirelessly for the LGBT+ and BIPOC communities in Chicago.
She was a board member for the Chicago Therapy Collective, which “promotes city-wide accountability and action to alleviate LGBTQIA health disparities” and works to advance “collective health and wellbeing through education, therapy, advocacy and the arts”.
The collective described her as a “key player for the #HireTransNOW initiative”, which combats anti-trans hiring stigma and employment discrimination.
She was also a member of the community advisory group for Equality Illinois, extensively fundraised for various community groups, and worked with the Illinois attorney general’s Civil Rights Bureau.
Maria Hadden, alderwoman for Chicago’s 49th ward, announced the news on Twitter: “There’s no easy way to say this – I’m heartbroken to share that Elise is no longer alive and with us.
“She has been identified and now her family, friends and our community begin to process her loss and our grief. Elise Malary will be missed terribly.”
The governor of Illinois described the loss as “heartbreaking”, while the Illinois attorney general’s office released a statement: “Today is a devastating day for the Office of the Attorney General. After hoping for several days that our friend and colleague Elise Malary would be safely reunited with her family, friends and loved ones, we have received confirmation of the unthinkable.
“Elise was a valued member of our Civil Rights Bureau who, as a tireless advocate for the LGBTQ community, was passionate about her work. Her kindness and infectious smile will be missed by those who worked with her.
“The Attorney General’s office has lost a member of our family, and as an office, we are heartbroken.
“I extend my deepest condolences to Elise’s family and friends. May Elise’s memory inspire all of us to live authentically and have humanity toward all.”
In a statement, the alliance said: “Brave Space Alliance is devastated to learn that missing trans liberation leader, and beloved Chicago trans community member Elise Malary was confirmed dead today by the City of Evanston Police Department. Elise was a pillar of our community, a friend and accomplice to many, and a shining example of Black Trans Excellence.
“Elise’s work to advance the interests of trans people in Andersonville with the Chicago Therapy Collective has touched countless lives, and helped make Chicago a better place for trans people to live, work, and thrive.”
The funeral fund, the group said, “will be working with Elise’s family to ensure that she receives a memorial deserving of her dedication to Black Trans Liberation”.
A 79-year-old woman has reasonable grounds to claim that a Maine assisted-living facility discriminated against her for being transgender when it rejected her as a potential resident, the Maine Human Rights Commission found.
The commission’s 3-2 vote on Monday sets in motion a process that could result in a lawsuit being filed against Sunrise Assisted Living in the town of Jonesport on a claim of violating state nondiscrimination law by denying Marie King’s application for residency.
King’s attorneys say the case has already made legal history as the nation’s first known discrimination complaint filed by a transgender person against a long-term care facility.
“This kind of discrimination against transgender people needing long-term care is far from an isolated incident, but it is also plainly illegal,” said Karen L. Loewy, senior counsel at Lambda Legal, which is not involved in the case.
In July 2021, a California appellate court struck down a portion of a 2017 state lawthat made it a misdemeanor for nursing home staff to deliberately and repeatedly misgender residents or use their former name — known in the trans community as “deadnaming.” The court found that this part of the law violated staff members’ right to free speech under the First Amendment. The California Supreme Court is reviewing the decision and may ultimately reverse it.
The California law has stood at the vanguard of a nascent movement in Democratic-controlled states to establish explicit legal protections against discrimination for LGBTQ seniors in nursing homes.
Long-term care homes that are specifically geared to welcome the nation’s more than 51 million LGBTQ seniors remain few and far between. But they have begun to crop up across the United States in recent years, including in Philadelphia, New York, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and San Diego.
Research indicates that trans seniors are more likely than their cisgender counterparts to require institutionalized care because they tend to have lower incomes, be in poorer healthand be more likely have severed ties from family members.
After King was admitted to Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport, Maine, in the spring of 2021, a hospital social worker sought to place her in a long-term care facility, given her poor overall health.
According to the legal complaint filed with the state human rights commission in October, an administrator at Sunrise initially told the social worker that there were vacancies.
But after the administrator learned that King is transgender, she allegedly told the social worker that she was rejecting her application because she did not want to place her with a cisgender-woman roommate.
“Long-term care facilities need to understand that they’re going to have lesbian, gay and transgender residents or applicants,” said Chris Erchull, a staff attorney at GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders in Boston, the nonprofit firm representing King.
The human rights commission’s decision, Erchull said, “is a reminder to all assisted-living homes and other long-term care facilities that they have to treat people with respect, compassion and understanding.”
The commission will now attempt to resolve the dispute between King and Sunrise, and barring such a resolution the commission may then file suit against the facility on her behalf.
King’s attorneys also have the option of suing independently of the commission.
Sunrise’s attorney, John K. Hamer, declined to comment.
Contacted through her attorney in January, King stated in an email that she hopes her case “will open doors to a better understanding” of the needs of transgender people.
The Hawaiian House has approved legislation requiring insurers to cover gender-affirming treatments for trans people previously deemed cosmetic.
House Bill 2405 (HB 2405) passed through the Democratic-controlled House on Tuesday (8 March), with only two representatives voting against the proposed legislation. It now moves to the Senate.
The bill would prohibit health insurers, health maintenance organisations and societies from excluding medically necessary gender-affirming treatments, which were previously deemed “cosmetic services”. However it will not come into effect until 2060.
This would include gender-affirming facial surgeries, hair electrolysis, mastectomies, breast reductions, breast implants and voice surgeries as well as therapies.
HB 2405 acknowledges that many people in the trans community have “experienced discriminatory treatment from health insurance providers” when seeking coverage for gender-affirming care which are routinely covered for cis people.
“Insurance policies often cover therapies and surgeries like feminising or masculinising hormone therapies, voice therapies, chest augmentations or reductions, and genital surgeries for other purposes but deny the same treatments for purposes of gender affirmation,” the bill states.
The legislature declared there was no “evidence-based” reason behind these “arbitrary assessments of medical necessity” and ultimately “interfere with the patient-physician relationship”.
HB 2405 says the lack of coverage for these gender-affirming treatments also places trans people denied treatment at “higher risk of suicide and depression”.
The bill read: “The legislature recognises that, while federal health care guidelines previously prohibited health insurance and health care providers from discriminating on the basis of gender identity, these protections have been largely rolled back.”
HB 2405 would also require that the medical necessity of any treatment for a trans person would be determined by the “hospital or medical service policy, contract, plan or agreement”. It will be defined in “accordance with the most recent information provided by evidence-based peer-reviewed medical guidance”.
Needless to say, with the waves of anti-LGBT+ bills making their way across the US, Hawaii’s bill helping the trans community access gender-affirming treatment has received a warm welcome on social media.
Lambda Legal joined by Tulsa attorney Karen Keith Wilkens filed a lawsuit challenging Oklahoma Republican Governor Kevin Stitt’s executive order prohibiting transgender people born in Oklahoma from correcting the gender marker on their birth certificates to match their gender identity.
The suit filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma, states that On November 8, 2021, Governor Stitt issued an executive order that reversed the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH)’s prior practice of allowing transgender people to correct their birth certificates to match their gender identity.
Previously, transgender people could correct their birth certificates by presenting a court order to OSDH, but following the executive order, OSDH has refused to comply with such orders.
“Gov. Stitt’s executive order deprives transgender people born in Oklahoma of equal treatment under the law. Other people have access to birth certificates that match who they are, but the government has singled out transgender people to take away their ability to access birth certificates that match who they are,” Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Shelly Skeen said. “Inaccurate identity documents rob transgender people of control over their privacy by involuntarily ‘outing’ them to others.
“Oklahoma’s policy wrongfully exposes transgender people to discrimination and harm when accessing housing, employment, education, healthcare, and public accommodations. Transgender people have the right, like everyone else, to keep their private matters private and to be treated equally in society, as who they are, without fear of discrimination,” Skeen said.
Attorney and Tyron Garner Fellow Nicholas Guillory, who is also working on the case, said: “In Oklahoma, 25% of transgender people live in poverty. Having accurate birth certificates that match who they are is critically important to combat the barriers and inequities they face in their daily lives.”
Lambda Legal filed the lawsuit today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma, on behalf of a transgender woman, Rowan Fowler, and two transgender men, Allister Hall and a plaintiff proceeding anonymously, C.R.
In the lawsuit, Fowler et al. v. Stitt et al., Lambda Legal argues that denying transgender people the ability to obtain accurate birth certificates subjects them to discrimination, deprives them of their dignity and invades their rights to privacy in violation of the U.S. Constitution. The lawsuit also argues that forcing transgender people to identify with a gender that does not align with their gender identity violates their free speech rights under the First Amendment.
“Having a birth certificate that reflects who I am as a human being is crucial and can present a basic issue of safety for me,” said plaintiff Rowan Fowler, who is a transgender woman. “The state’s denial of my existence is discriminatory and puts me in harm’s way. There was no reason for Oklahoma to take away this basic tool that transgender people need to simply go about their everyday lives with dignity, safety, and respect.”
According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, almost one-third of transgender individuals who showed an identity document with a name or gender marker that conflicted with their perceived gender were harassed, denied benefits and services, discriminated against or assaulted. At least 47 states have systems in place that allow transgender people to correct their birth certificates to match their gender identity.