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Transgender People Share Stories of Prejudice and Stigma in Health Care

Transgender people and their loved ones are condemning a new Trump administration proposal that would effectively limit their access to health care by encouraging prejudice from providers.

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—or those of their loved ones—of stigma faced while accessing health care and fear keeping them from seeking it.

“I was laughed at and belittled,” writes Kelli Farrow of Orange Park, FL. “I was there to seek treatment for what has become a life-altering autoimmune disease that I have been diagnosed with. This particular event I'm talking about, was when I'm seeking medical attention for a pinky finger that was swollen shut (into my hand)... Finding doctors that will even treat you is difficult. I can call several providers with you all on the phone and I tell the nursing staff or front desk I'm transgender and just want to make sure they see people such as myself, and they come back after speaking with the provider and tell me they don't specialize in people like me, or they don't treat people like me or some other version, and all I'm trying to do is seek a primary care doctor.”

“My daughter is 33 years old and transgender,” writes Dianna Mitzner of Markleeville, CA. “I am worried about her medical safety almost every day. While she was visiting me, she had a painful ear infection I accompanied her to urgent care operated by our local hospital. The hospital is over half an hour away. The receptionist kindly wrote her name on the outside of her folder with a request not to use her former masculine name which was in their system from her childhood. Not only did the nurse practitioner refuse to address her by her new name but began a line of extended and provocative verbal harassment about her transition, completely unrelated to her ear infection.”

“As a trans disabled woman, trans healthcare protections are vital for not only my medical needs as a trans woman but as a disabled woman as well,” writes Athena Hitchin of Big Bear City, CA. “Many of my conditions like epilepsy and hydrocephalus require at times the immediate and complete care and trust in doctors and medical staff, something that could mean life or death in places of medical emergency. As a person with hydrocephalus, I rely on a machine known as a shunt which like many other machines breaks down and requires revisions by neurosurgeons. For the first time since starting to transition (thanks to MEDICAID expansion to cover trans healthcare something that I thought was a impossible dream prior to the Affordable Care Act), I worry not only of losing coverage for my transitioning, but also of bigoted doctors who think religious freedom trumps their Hippocratic oath.”

“I am 29 years old,” writes Saige King of Chattanooga, TN. “My mother died when I was 11 of cervical cancer and my dad died when I was 25 of lung cancer. My grandma died of lung cancer. My grandpa died of kidney cancer. Two aunts have survived other forms of cancer. It's in both sides of my family and will very likely come for me in one way or another… I am scared to go to the doctor when I'm in pain, or for problems that come with my assigned gender at birth because my outside is not what they expect. I am a human being - and I want to live.”

“My husband, as well as several friends I know, are transgender and it is not right that this proposed rule does not cover them,” writes Amanda Waldrop of Huntsville, AL. “My husband is in law enforcement and a very hard worker. He serves the state and should be treated as a valued member of society just like a cisgendered [sic] man. My husband has had health issues that have went dismissed because as soon as hospital staff realizes he is transgendered [sic] he is sent home quickly with antibiotics instead of proper testing to find out why certain things are happening.”

“I have many trans friends, and two years ago I supported a close friend following a head injury that required hospitalization,” writes Ben Edwards of Felton, CA. “Driving them to the hospital, I was terrified that they might be seriously injured, or even at risk of dying. I had no fear, though, that they would be turned away at the door on the basis of their gender. I was confident that, even if I didn’t know how to help them (or save them!), I was delivering them into the care of professionals who knew what to do and would take action to keep my friend safe. If this rule were to go into effect, we would have no such certainty.”

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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