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Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Trans Youth and Families Demand HHS Protect Their Health Care

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A transfeminine student sitting in class and using her phone.jpg (

Transgender youth and their families are calling on the Department of Health and Human Services to stop a new rule limiting their health care access.

As part of a joint campaign between the National Center for Transgender Equality and the Transgender Law Center, over 16,000 people have condemned the new proposal at ProtectTransHealth.org, with many sharing their own experiences of stigma—or those of their loved ones—faced while accessing health care and fear keeping them from seeking it.

While HHS reports it has received over 60,000 comments, the Department has failed to make any of them public—so we are releasing some of ours below.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 50 teenagers in the US are transgender and they face significantly higher risks for bullying, physical violence, suicidality, and other health risks such as drug use and STIs. 

[Note: Surnames and specific locations of those commenters below the age of 18 have been removed in the interest of privacy and safety]  

“I’m a transgender teenager living with a single mother employed as a hairdresser,” writes Oliver of Louisana. “Without these protections, my mom and I may not be able to support ourselves taking medical costs for me into account without healthcare coverage.”

“I oppose this proposed rule because it will endanger the lives of real human beings like my son,” writes Lara Schwartz of Washington, DC. “My son, who is 15 years old, has allergies and a mild immune deficiency that he manages with injections and medication.  He is passionate about spending time in nature and will hike in Virginia for three weeks this summer as part of his Quaker camp community. If, as has happened once before, he experiences an allergic reaction, he needs to know that a doctor will treat him.  Period, full stop. Health care providers take an oath to care for everyone. The government should not be encouraging and enabling them to put human lives and health at risk.”

“I'm just like you,” writes Jonathan, a transgender teenager from Oklahoma. “I have a family, many members of which care and worry for me, I'm someone's child, someone's sibling. I have wishes, dreams, and ambitions. I think like everyone else, I live like everyone else, I need help like everyone else. I shouldn't be denied basic human necessities because of a difference you can't even look at me and claim I have to begin with. Nor should it be legal to do so.”

“I am a mother of a transgender teenager,” writes Laurie Alexander-Krom of West Roxbury, MA. “Revoking the non-discrimination protections for transgender individuals will directly impact and hurt my child who deserves equal access to medical care.  My daughter is 16 years old and is a straight-A student and loves school and is doing incredibly well and thriving since transitioning. Please do not revoke these protections.”

“I'm 17 years old and I'm approaching adulthood where I can start my transition,” writes Jessica of Idaho. “I live in a red state with not very accepting family members. I am unsafe in every sense of the word. I won't have financial aid from my family most likely when I start my transition, and I'll have to pay for food, housing, transportation, and on top of that, health care that I need to help me transition. If trans people are pulled from being discriminated against in health care, my life could be put in danger of not affording basic things or not affording to become happy in my own skin.”

“My child is five and a half years old and has been telling us since she could talk that she is a girl, not a boy,” writes Rebecca Schenker of Los Angeles, CA. “She is transgender, and every day I live with the fear of what that will mean for her life...We have a supportive doctor and care team at our hospital, but I worry every time we take a vacation. I live in fear of what might happen if this rule changes, allowing doctors and hospitals to discriminate against transgender people who need basic life-saving care. What if she falls and breaks her arm - or g-d forbid worse - and we need to visit a strange ER? Will they refuse to treat her? My child could die...She's just a five-year-old child who sees the world in black and white, wrong and write, truth and lie. She knows herself and who she is, and she knows she is a girl.  And every day I carry fear in my heart for her, and this proposed rule adds to our family's anxiety and fear about access to basic life-saving care.”

“As a disabled nonbinary teenager, recent rollbacks and the shift in atmosphere around trans issues is terrifying,” writes Briar of Tennessee. “Please reach out to your trans friends and family. Check-in and continue to do so as our lives are in jeopardy. We are all human beings deserving of love, respect and equal treatment. Our lives, experiences, memories, history, health, livelihoods and communities are worth no less than anyone else’s.”

One in three transgender people has been denied access to medical care by a health care provider because of their gender identity, according to the Center for American Progress. According to the US Transgender Survey, one in three transgender people has declined to seek health care when they need it out of fear of mistreatment.

Anyone in support of transgender equality has until August 13 to leave a comment at ProtectTransHealth.org telling the Trump administration to stop attacking the health care access of transgender people.

All comments above were shared with NCTE and TLC by their respective authors. All commenters at ProtectTransHealth.org are given the option to comment anonymously and any comments shared by NCTE or TLC are from those who opted to make their comments public. 

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