A federal judge in Texas issued the ruling in the final hours of 2016. Nearly 19% of surveyed transgender patients report they have been refused medical care.
On Saturday, a federal judge in Texas halted parts of an Affordable Care Act rule that would ban hospitals and insurance companies from discriminating against patients because of their gender identity.
The rule was issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) last May to implement Section 1557 of the ACA, which bans doctors and nurses from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability.
But — to the chagrin of some religious groups — the rule specified that the ban on discrimination based on sex included “gender identity.” It also specified that medical providers had to treat women with a past history of abortions.
One plaintiff in the lawsuit, a private hospital system called the Franciscan Alliance, said that, consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church, “a person’s sex is ascertained biologically, and not by one’s beliefs, desires, or feelings.”
The hospital group argued that treating or referring patients for transition-related care would constitute “impermissible material cooperation with evil.”
In 2012, the American Psychiatric Association established the new diagnosis of “gender dysphoria” and new standards for transgender care.
“The APA said that this is a valid medical diagnosis, and the treatment for it should include not only what you might expect, like counseling, but also hormones and gender transition-related surgery,” Lois Uttley, co-chair of the LGBT Task Force of Healthcare For All New York, told BuzzFeed News. “This was a big turning point in the way the medical field looked at transgender healthcare.” Of the 3.3 million HIV tests reported to the Centers of Disease Control in 2013, the highest percentage of new HIV-positive people were among transgender people. Transgender patients are also at disproportionate risk for certain cancers.50% reported a lack of provider knowledge about transgender care.While sometimes doctors will refuse to provide transition-related care like hormone therapy or surgeries, other times the mistreatment is less direct. “It also means that you can have doctors or hospitals that discriminate against people by refusing to call them by their chosen name, or seeing a transgender man and repeatedly referring to him as a ‘she,’” Warbelow said.
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