TransJustice: the fight for health care

By ANN MONTAGUE

 Transjustice activists are working on a lot of issues, and a major one is health care. The United States is very far behind countries with national health-care systems, as most of these countries cover whatever transgender people need without prejudice.

The Transgender Law Center is a major resource for information about the problems encountered in access to care in our private insurance system.

Many health insurance companies just deny transgender applicants who apply to their plans. Even in San Francisco, which is a relatively transgender-friendly city, 51% of transgender people have no form of health insurance. This means they do not even have access for generally covered routine care. Repairing a knee ligament without insurance is about $25,000.

Another problem is that in most states public and private health insurance has what the industry calls “Transgender Exclusion.” This means they will not cover any transition-related procedures or care. All treatment is out of pocket, which can be prohibitive, and often because of the cost transgender persons will resort to the black market to get their hormones or even surgery. This can result in great harm or even death.

There are also examples of health-insurance companies that define the Transgender Exclusion very broadly. So there are  examples in which coverage of a broken arm is denied because the insurance company assumes any health problems are due to transgender status. The problem of transphobic medical providers means that often the transgendered person will avoid going to the doctor; so they do not even receive cancer screenings or gynecological care.

These are some of the issues that TransJustice activists work with every day. They were encouraged when they were told by officials in the Obama administration that they “believed” that the nondiscrimination laws in Obamacare would protect transgendered people. However, the day after Pvt. Manning announced she would be seeking hormone therapy, a spokesperson for the Army stated that they would “not provide hormone therapy or re-assignment surgery for Gender Dysphoria.”

After doing further research, activists found that the nondiscrimination section in Obamacare specifically does not require health-insurance companies to pay for gender reassignment surgery, hormone therapy, or “other services.” More people need to join the movement both for TransJustice and against a health-care system based on profit.

 Photo: Audre Lorde Project