This Pride Month, We Refuse to Turn Back the Clock on Our Health Care

Rachel Kuenzi

Pride month is and always has been a political declaration. It is a month to celebrate resiliency and to resist discrimination against the LGBTQ community. This resiliency and resistance is more important than ever as the Trump administration continues its string of relentless attacks on the LGBTQ community.

In their latest attack, the Trump administration is prioritizing discrimination over the health of patients while putting all of our lives, health care and civil rights in danger.

On May 24, the administration released a new proposed rule that attempts to roll back civil rights protections in health care, known as the Health Care Rights Law. The proposed rule allows health care entities and providers to discriminate against people seeking care based on that person’s gender identity, sexual orientation, or because they have had an abortion. The proposed rule would, for example, allow a nurse to turn away a transgender individual from the emergency room simply because of their gender identity, and could embolden a doctor to refuse to perform a breast exam for a patient who sought abortion care twenty years ago.

While the administration does not have the power to change the law — only Congress does — the proposed rule will sow confusion and will discourage patients from seeking health care in the first place, or from speaking up if they experience discrimination.

Transgender and non-binary individuals already face significant barriers when accessing health care — one-in-three transgender individuals report being harassed or denied treatment by their provider. Those seeking reproductive health care especially struggle to access vital services, as many providers assume transgender patients do not need reproductive health services, such as pelvic exams, contraceptive counseling, or abortion care. Let’s be clear: all people need and should receive health care — including reproductive health care — free of shame, stigma, bias or discrimination.

Unfortunately, this assault on health care is just one part of this administration’s broader attack against trans communities — President Trump has pushed for discrimination against transgender students, attempted to ban trans people from serving in the military, and argued that trans people can be fired from their jobs simply for being trans. The administration even announced a plan to deny transgender people experiencing homelessness equal access to shelters. This unrelenting onslaught is despicable and must be stopped.

We refuse to turn back the clock on our health care – or on the ability of all of us to participate fully and equally in society. So this Pride month, we all need to step up and fight to #ProtectTransHealth and #PutPatientsFirst. We are proud to support National Center for Transgender Equality and all of the other partners and activists across the country leading this fight to protect our health care. Click here to tell the Trump administration and HHS to stop encouraging discrimination and uphold the Health Care Rights Law!

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