Two transgender women, one of them a Black Army veteran and lung cancer survivor, have filed suit against the Trump Administration challenging a recent rule change which strips away anti-discrimination protections in the Affordable Care Act.
The lawsuit was filed on the behalf of Tanya Asapansa-Johnson Walker and Cecilia Gentili, a Latinx woman and health care advocate, by the Human Rights Campaign on Friday.
The plaintiffs’ collective experiences offer a small glimpse into the reality that many LGBTQ people, especially transgender women of color, face when seeking health care. For years, Tanya Asapansa-Johnson Walker and Cecilia Gentili have been routinely met with ridicule, harassment, verbal acts of discrimination such as misgendering and deadnaming, and rough physical handling, when making appointments for routine care, during recovery from surgery, or while accompanying other transgender patients to necessary medical treatments just because they are transgender.
Both live with serious and chronic lung conditions, and they delay or avoid treatment for these and other conditions because of the fear of facing discrimination. Both live with the trauma and grief of having lost friends and chosen family who succumbed to conditions that were treatable but who nonetheless chose to forego medical care due to fear of harassment and discrimination.
“Every visit to the doctor, whether for my lung cancer or other issues, I have to defend my gender identity to the very people responsible for my care,” said Walker. “We are here to tell the Trump-Pence administration that we matter and will no longer accept being mistreated by health care professionals who should be obligated to treat everyone equally.”
The lawsuit argues that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has violated federal law by removing language from the ACA regulations which clarified that discrimination on the basis of gender identity is a form of sex discrimination. The suit seeks an order that would declare the action as unlawful and prevent Trump’s HHS from implementing the regulation.
A day after the Trump Administration reversed the Obama Administration-era guidance regarding sex based discrimination in health care, the Supreme Court ruled that LGBTQ employees qualify for protection from discrimination based on sex under the 1964 Civil Rights Act.