The Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP) and GLAAD, the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy organization, Friday released a series of PSA videos featuring transgender advocates and allies highlighting the critical issue of health care access for transgender people. The videos feature Reina Gossett, a transgender woman working in New York City who launched a Change.org petition calling Governor Andrew Cuomo and Health Commissioner Nirav Shah to repeal a regulation in New York State Medicaid the specifically excludes transgender people from accessing the care they need.
The new PSA videos can be viewed at www.glaad.org/healthcare (as well as below). In addition to Reina Gossett, advocates and allies featured in the video include Stephen Ira, a transgender writer; Egyptt, a transgender activist and performer; Ronica Mukerjee, MSN and family nurse practitioner; Finn Brigham, a health care administrator; and Maureen Ridge, an ally, advocate, and parent of Reina.
The discriminatory Medicaid regulation states, “Payment is not available for care, services, drugs, or supplies rendered for the purpose of gender reassignment (also known as transsexual surgery) or any care, services, drugs, or supplies intended to promote such treatment.” 18 NYCRR 505.2(l).
Like New York State Medicaid, many health insurance policies and programs specifically exclude transgender people from accessing care. However, in some cities and private health insurance plans with inclusive coverage, transgender people have access to health care, without increased premiums or surcharges.
“I am a New Yorker, this is my home. Unfortunately, for transgender and gender non-conforming New Yorkers, we’re excluded from accessing the basic healthcare coverage we need to survive through Medicaid, due to misinformation and bias” said Reina Gossett. “Whether it’s preventative care or hormone therapy, health care for trans people is not special care. It is the regular health care that non-transgender people count on every day, but is specifically denied to transgender and gender non-conforming people, just because of who they are. When you think about it like that, it’s just not fair.”
The discriminatory Medicaid regulation adds to the barriers transgender people already face to accessing health care. While transgender people live in poverty at four times the national average, a staggering 19 percent of transgender people report lacking any form of health insurance, including Medicaid.