Everyone Deserves Equal Medical Protection


Kate De Prima, Staff Writer

Section 1557 of the Affordable HealthCare Act, or the law that “prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability” in certain medical circumstances, is at risk of being rolled back by the Trump administration.

Trump is trying to find a way to skirt the plain language of this section. Since discrimination on the basis of gender is illegal, Trump cannot explicitly deny any of the listed protected classes from filing a complaint with the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This proposed modification to Section 1557 still allows a discrimination complaint to be filed with the HHS by a trans individual, but that complaint will not receive any further attention or investigation. In essence, their claim will never be heard beyond the initial complaint.

Over many years, the language of this section has been debated on whether or not it includes transgender people. In 2016, religiously-affiliated medical groups filed a lawsuit claiming that the law’s inclusion of trans persons violated their religious rights. Since his election, President Trump has sided with religious medical providers, and he and his administration have planned to create/modify laws in order to support religious groups—even at the cost of LGBTQ+ rights.

LGBTQ+ people, especially trans people already face many challenges when receiving medical/health care. The Human Rights Campaign reported that 1 in 5 LGBTQ+ individuals cannot afford health services. This is a major problem because LGBTQ+ people are more susceptible to various health issues, such as drug/substance abuse or addiction, mental health issues, eating disorders, and certain cancers and infections. The disparities between cost and necessity aren’t the only problem LGBTQ+ people face in a medical setting—discrimination is an equally problematic complication, which Trump’s rollback will only worsen.

The fight for equal healthcare for the transgender community is an uphill battle, similar to the fight for women’s rights regarding abortion. Abortion was widely illegal in the U.S. for nearly 70 years. Women planning to get an abortion, risk receiving similar mistreatment in medical settings as trans persons do when looking to receive healthcare. Both groups’ access to medical care are greatly hindered by protesters, hate crimes, families’ opinions, laws, and fear. The movement for legal abortions started in the 1920s, and while the trans medical movement is a bit harder to pin an exact year (sometime mid 20th century), both groups have boldly fought for equal medical treatment. Despite many difficulties, many laws and restrictions involving abortion are changing, and hopefully, future rules regarding health care will continue to move in a more inclusive way.

If Trump’s change in Section 1557 passes, it won’t legalize transgender discrimination. But it will lessen the consequences for discriminatory doctors and minimize resources/opportunities for trans people to enforce their rights. No human deserves to be discriminated against in any way or in any circumstance. Despite Trump’s attack on trans people’s rights to healthcare, everyone must preserve and continue to fight for what is right.


Graphic Courtesy of INUDGEYOU.COM