Today while many in the Puget Sound region were taking action to support Black organizing and fight back against systemic police violence the President took action that many had long feared was only a matter of time. During a global pandemic the federal Health and Human Services department has issued a final ruling encouraging discrimination against LGBTQ people in healthcare and health insurance coverage. To be clear, in the State of Washington transgender and gender diverse people cannot be denied access to healthcare on the basis of their gender identity – regardless of what the President says.
This ruling attempts to redefine sex as it’s definied in section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act – effectively erasing transgender and gender diverse people. If this ruling were to go into effect it would bar transgender and gender diverse people accross the country from accessing health care. And to be clear this would not just restrict access to hormones, gender affirming surgery or other life saving gender affirming healthcare. This ruling could allow healthcare providers to deny treatment for a broken arm or cancer based on someone’s gender identity. If this rule is allowed to go into effect transgender and gender diverse people will die from a lack of access to healthcare.
While this is horrible news it is important to remember that the President’s administration does not have the power to do this on their own. There are many legal advocates locally and nationally fighting back against these efforts. Currently, there are important cases before the Supreme Court that will have a broad impact on our community’s ability to access healthcare, employment and so many more important resources. Stay tuned to our website and social media channels as all await decisions on these critical cases.
It is also important to remember that as Washingtonians we have a strong legal framework that protects our access to all healthcare. The Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) prevents healthcare providers and insurers from discriminating on the basis of gender identity. And yet, we know that transgender and gender diverse Washingtonians on Apple Healthcare experience radically different quality of care than those on private insurance. For Black and Brown transgender and gender diverse people that poorer quality of care is compounded by the systemic racism embedded in our healthcare system. We urge the Healthcare Authority and the Governor’s office to affirm their commitment to expanding and improving access to life saving care by working with transgender and gender diverse leaders across the state to improve Apple Health coverage for our communities.
We know these attacks on our right to access healthcare will impact BIPOC transgender and gender diverse communities the most. This ruling was released on the fourth anniversary of the Pulse Night Club massacre and in the wake of more murders of Black trans folks – Tony McDade in Florida, Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells in Pennsylvania and Riah Milton in Ohio. We know that systemic Anti-black racism has ensured that Black communities feel the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that white supremacy is at the heart of transphobia and our communities cannot thrive unless we take action now.
While this is scary and devastating news I encourage you not to get discouraged. While you join us in the fight for healthcare access please continue to take action supporting Black led efforts to end police violence in your communities. Please continue to support efforts that center Black transgender and gender diverse leaders and groups by taking a look at the resources we have shared down below.
Ingersoll Gender Center
Here some ways you can take action here locally:
- Donate to and support groups locally like Transgender Women of Color Solidartiy Network and the Black Trans Taskforce
- Support Black trans led organizations in areas of our country who are hardest hit – without statewide protections – by this cruel decision (organizations linked below)
- If you are a Black transgender and gender diverse and need mental health support we can connect you to free mental health support. Take a look at this post for more information.
- Support the effort to defund the Seattle Police Department.
- If you are white take action to educate yourself and other white folks around you
Groups you can support outside of Washington:
This is by no means an exhaustive list of organizations led by Black trans people outside of Washington but here is a growing list of groups you can support: