When I first talked to my doctor about surgery for my transition, he said no. He said the existence of transgender people was against his religion.
This denial of care forced me to go to someone else to seek transition help. That doctor prescribed me a medication I shouldn’t have taken as a diabetic. I was rushed to the hospital. I was close to dying.
Unfortunately, two million transgender folks are at risk of experiencing similar discrimination.
Right now, the Trump administration is trying to roll back section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, known as the Health Care Rights Law. That’s a civil rights law that protects transgender people from being discriminated against while seeking healthcare on the basis of sex. It bans discrimination in health care and health insurance.
The proposed Trump rule would put transgender people in danger, and it would threaten access to health care for LGBTQ people, people seeking reproductive healthcare, including abortion, and those with limited English proficiency.
They say their proposal will save money. The Trump Administration talks about how removing protections for sexual orientation and gender identity, limiting access to reproductive health services, allowing providers and insurers to opt out of providing care based on religious or conscience, and limiting access to in-language information about health insurance plans will save money.
Those “cost savings” are false – they just shift the burden of those costs to people like me, who are less able to afford them. Under the proposed rule, any hospital or insurance company could flat out refuse my care. So I’d be back to ground zero again, struggling to figure out how I’m going to get the money to pay for my medical costs.
I’ve struggled to get and maintain health insurance because many of the available plans didn’t cover the health care services I needed, like reproductive health services and gender-affirming care. Those plans that did cover the services I needed were too expensive for me to afford.
When the nondiscrimination rules of the Affordable Care Act were announced, I was relieved to know I would finally be able to get health insurance that actually worked for me at a price I could afford. The changes being proposed here – including removing protections for sexual orientation and gender identity and allowing providers to claim a religious or conscience exemption to my health care needs – will once again make it impossible for me to afford the care I need.
If this rule change happens, I am positive that I, along with many others, will experience discrimination as a trans person trying to get healthcare. The Trump administration is trying to make it okay to discriminate against trans people in healthcare. No one deserves to be denied access to care because of who they are.
Because one doctor said, “I refuse to treat you because you are transgender,” I nearly died. I know first-hand that discrimination against trans people can lead to life and death situations.
I urge Oregonians to stand with me and organizations like Forward Together to protect our communities from discrimination. We still have time to demand the administration back down. If we send thousands of unique comments opposing this rule, the Department of Health and Human Services must respond to each of them individually—a process that could delay this change or potentially even stop it.
We all deserve access to quality healthcare! Submit a public comment opposing this inhumane rule now.
Janvier Marzu Francisco lives in Vernonia, Oregon and is a leader with Forward Together