NCTE Commends Introduction of Health Equity and Accountability Act

July 30, 2014

The National Center for Transgender Equality commends the Congressional Tri-Caucus, comprised of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) for reintroducing the Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA) of 2014 on Capitol Hill today. The bill’s lead sponsor is Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), along with Congresswomen Barbara Lee (CA-13), and Donna Christiansen (VI).

The Act was first introduced in 2003 and has provided a principled, comprehensive, and strategic plan to eliminate health disparities and improve the health of communities of color. This 2014 version of the bill expands upon the original by providing more federal resources, policies, and infrastructure to eliminate health disparities, with a special emphasis on racial and ethnic minorities as well as subpopulations that face additional barriers due to gender identity and sexual orientation, immigration status, age, disability, sex, and proficiency in English.

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Win: Maryland Drops Insurance Exclusions for State Employees

July 22, 2014

The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) celebrates a Maryland resolution ending transgender health care exclusions for state employees. The case, brought forward by FreeState Legal, settles a complaint on behalf of Sailor Holobaugh, a transgender state employee who was denied medically necessary care. FreeState filed an Equal Employment Opportunity complaint as well as a complaint with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights, alleging the denial of health care coverage for a transition-related procedure was discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

Today’s settlement includes reimbursement for the employee’s surgery, but also requires removal of transition-related care exclusions from all state employee health plans. The settlement also creates a new comprehensive Gender Dysphoria Benefit in state employee health plans. The benefit covers all medically necessary transition-related treatment, including hormone replacement therapy and various surgical procedures.

“We applaud Maryland and the administration of Governor O’Malley for becoming the fourth state to ensure coverage of transition-related care for state employees, joining Massachusetts, Oregon and California, along with the District of Columbia,” said National Center for Transgender Equality Executive Director Mara Keisling.  The decision follows enactment of the Fairness for all Marylanders Act earlier this year, explicitly banning discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression in employment, housing, credit, and public accommodations.

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NCTE Commends CDC’s Clarified Breast Cancer Screening Policy

December 20, 2013

The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) commends the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for clarifying that its National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program will cover screening for eligible transgender women and men.  The CDC deserves credit for consulting medical experts and community members and adopting an approach that is both fair and fact-based.

NCTE Director of Policy Harper Jean Tobin said, “Under the clarified policy, all transgender women who have taken hormones may receive breast cancer screening under the program, subject to other eligibility standards. Transgender men and gender non-conforming people with a female history continue to be eligible for breast and cervical cancer screening, if applicable.”

The CDC’s clarified policy comes in response to an uninsured transgender woman in Colorado who, in October 2013, was denied access to a breast cancer screening under a federal program administered by the CDC. Her provider pointed to an earlier CDC newsletter stating that its program excluded women who are “not genetically female.”

NCTE and the Human Rights Campaign swiftly condemned the provider’s actions and called on the CDC to investigate the case. NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling said, “We applaud the CDC’s clarified policy and urge other public health programs, private insurance plans, and health care providers to adopt similar approaches.”

“The bottom line is that if you have a body part that needs screening, it ought to be screened regardless of your identity,” Keisling said.

NCTE and HRC Call on CDC to Offer Breast Cancer Screenings to All Women

October 18, 2013


In response to news reports that an uninsured transgender woman in Colorado who found a lump in her breast was denied federally subsidized mammography because she is “not genetically female,” the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and the Human Rights Campaign called on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to change its discriminatory guidelines.

“Excluding transgender women from a breast cancer screening program has no legitimate basis and flies in the face of accepted medical standards,” said Harper Jean Tobin, NCTE director of policy. “That is irrational discrimination, plain and simple. We hope and expect that the CDC will act swiftly to make clear that these programs must serve all women.”

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What’s in the Health Care Marketplace for Trans People?

September 19, 2013

Health Care Marketplace Enrollment Starts Oct. 1st

Photo: Ted Eytan

Photo: Ted Eytan

Last Thursday, NCTE and dozens of LGBT groups from around the country attended a White House briefing on the new health insurance marketplaces, which will be open for enrollment starting Tues. October 1st.  Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President, gave the opening remarks and was followed by Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius.  Both expressed their excitement about the upcoming enrollment period and explained the importance of access to quality health care for LGBT people.  Currently, transgender people are less likely to have health insurance than non-transgender people, and 48% of transgender people have avoided going to the doctor when they were sick because they could not afford it.

Several panelists described how the federal government and community organizations can take steps to ensure that LGBT people are aware of their health care rights and health insurance enrollment options.  The new health care marketplaces are a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which makes health care more affordable and accessible for LGBT people in many ways.  The ACA prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity in the regulations implementing the law, expands coverage for HIV and AIDS treatment, provides for free preventive care, and states that individuals cannot be denied health insurance because of pre-existing conditions.

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Veterans Health Admin. Renews Trans Health Care Directive

February 11, 2013

The Veterans Health Administration has issued a renewed and updated directive on providing health care for transgender veterans and veterans with intersex conditions. VHA originally issued this directive in June 2011, and like other VHA directives it carried a technical expiration date, and was intended to be updated or included in other, permanent VHA policy documents in the future. While the expiration date passed in late 2012, actual VA policy never changed, and the new directive is effective for at least the next five years.

The renewed VHA directive is essentially identical to the 2011 version, but is accompanied by an official FAQ document that provides helpful clarification on patients’ rights to be treated according to their gender identity for purposes of pronouns, restroom access, and room placements, as well as on how to update gender markers in VHA patient records. There is also additional guidance for VHA health care providers who may be treating a transgender or intersex patient for the first time.

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Cervical Health Awareness Month: Check It Out, No Matter Your Gender

January 23, 2013

Cervical cancer screenings prevent cancer and save lives. But for many transgender people, getting these basic screenings is fraught with anxiety and fear. Both the very real fear of disrespect and discrimination, and the dysphoria many people feel about this part of their body, make going for these tests feel anything but routine. In the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, we found that forty-eight percent of transgender men delay or avoid getting preventive care due to the fear of encountering discrimination.

It doesn’t help that, even during this Cervical Health Awareness Month, virtually everything we hear about the subject is framed in alienating gendered terms. For example, a quick survey of online articles on cervical cancer testing  refer only to women and do not address the need for cervical cancer screenings among people of other genders. Any mention of trans people’s needs for cervical screenings is limited to blogs and other trans community spaces.

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National Institutes of Health Issues Progress Report on LGBT Health Research

January 9, 2013

In 2011, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released the most comprehensive report to date on LGBT health, focusing heavily on the lack of adequate research and health data on LGBT populations. This month, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued a progress report that surveyed what federally-supported LGBT health research has been done and what still needs to be done.

A number of areas were given as needing attention including addressing methodological issues (how to study LGBT health effectively), improving the cultural competency of health providers/researchers and increasing communication between the NIH and those doing LGBT research and the other federal agencies.

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