Tuesday, in the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois, Urbana Division, Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit on behalf of Naya Taylor, a transgender woman denied medical care after she requested hormone replacement therapy. The lawsuit alleges a violation of the ACA’s non-discrimination provisions prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex, (which includes gender identity), and requires that clinics receiving federal funds treat transgender patients in the same manner as they would any patient under their care.
“The provisions of the Affordable Care Act are clear: doctors receiving federal funds cannot discriminate in providing patient care just because a person is transgender,” said Kenneth Upton, Senior Counsel for Lambda Legal. “Patients such as Naya Taylor place their health and well-being in a doctor’s hands. Ms. Taylor asked for her doctor to provide services similar to those provided to other clinic patients who are not transgender and the doctor and clinic refused, posing a significant risk to Ms. Taylor’s health. The ACA’s non-discrimination provisions were intended to ensure appropriate medical care for transgender people, a community that already faces a disproportionate amount of discrimination, violence and suicide rates.”
Taylor is a transgender woman living in Mattoon, Illinois. Dr. Aja Lystila had been Taylor’s primary care physician, but when Taylor requested to start hormone replacement therapy as part of her medically necessary, transition-related healthcare to treat her gender dysphoria, Dr. Lystila refused. Dr. Lystila first claimed she was not experienced in providing hormones to transgender people even though hormone therapy is regularly provided to non-transgender patients in a variety of settings every day. Later the clinic told Taylor that it “does not have to treat people like you.”
HRT is one of the vital life-saving treatments used to treat gender dysphoria, a recognized, serious medical condition.
The Affordable Care Act is the first federal civil rights law to prohibit health care providers that receive federal funds, such as Dr. Lystila’s medical practice, from discriminating against any individual on the basis of sex for purpose of providing health services. That prohibition extends to discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity, regardless of the actual or perceived gender identity of the individuals involved.
The case is Taylor v. Lystila, and names Dr. Lystila and Carle, an integrated group of health care services, as defendants. A complaint was also filed with the Illinois Human Rights Commission.
“When they said, ‘We don’t have to treat people like you,’ I felt like the smallest, most insignificant person in the world,” said Taylor. “The doctor and office provide hormone replacement therapy for others at the same clinic, they just refused to do that for me.”
Kenneth Upton, Senior Counsel for Lambda Legal, is handling the case, along with Christopher Clark, Counsel for Lambda Legal and M. Dru Levasseur, Transgender Rights Project Director for Lambda Legal.