LGBT Advocates Issue Guidance to Hospitals for Treating Transgender Patients

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"This first-ever guide to transgender-affirming health care will enable U.S. hospitals to provide equitable, competent care to transgender people, reducing the serious health risks and disparities they face."
November 5, 2013
Lambda Legal Contact: Jonathan Adams 212-809-8585 ext.267; Cell: 646-752-3251; Email: [email protected]

New York City Bar Association Contact: Eric Friedman 212-382-6754; email: [email protected]

HRC Contact: Paul Guequierre Paul Guequierre 202 423-2860; Email: [email protected]

(New York, NY, November 5, 2013) - Lambda Legal, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC Foundation), and the LGBT Rights Committee of the New York City Bar Association, with pro bono assistance from Hogan Lovells US, LLP, have jointly released a unique, groundbreaking publication that will provide much-needed guidance to hospitals seeking to improve health care for transgender patients.

"Lambda Legal's Help Desk gets scores of calls from transgender people who are facing discrimination or being denied care when they need it. Transgender people face significant barriers to equal, consistent, and high-quality health care," said Dru Levasseur, Director of the Transgender Rights Project at Lambda Legal. "This first-ever guide to transgender-affirming hospital policies will reduce health disparities for transgender people and offer them truly equitable care."

Added Shane Snowdon, Director of HRC's Health and Aging Program, "We know from our educational work with hospitals nationwide that many of them are eager to learn how to provide better care to transgender people. This publication gives them the just the information and tools they need to do right by their transgender patients."

"This report represents the culmination of several years of work by the City Bar's LGBT Rights Committee on the unique health care issues of transgender individuals, including its 2011 survey of several New York City area hospitals that highlighted the need for just such a best practices guide," said New York City Bar Association President Carey R. Dunne. "We are pleased to have partnered with Lambda Legal and HRC on this report, which we hope will be of great assistance to hospitals as they review their policies to better reflect the needs of their transgender patients."

Lambda Legal's landmark 2010 survey, When Health Care Isn't Caring, showed that transgender and gender-nonconforming people experience discrimination in healthcare and barriers to care two to three times more often than lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. In fact, 19 percent of the 6,000+ respondents in the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey reported having been refused health care outright because of their transgender status, while 28 percent had postponed necessary care when they were sick or injured and 33 percent had delayed or not sought preventive care because of prior health care discrimination. Rather than endure abuse and poor treatment, many transgender people go without care, endangering and worsening their health.

In the last few years, laws have been passed to address discrimination against transgender patients. The Affordable Care Act, for example, prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, including gender identity, in any hospital or health program that receives federal funds. Furthermore, The Joint Commission, which accredits virtually all U.S. hospitals, requires that they prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity to maintain accreditation. Additionally, many state and local nondiscrimination laws ban discrimination related to gender identity in public accommodations. Hospitals have long wondered, however, how to honor the letter and spirit of these requirements.

"Creating Equal Access to Quality Health Care for Transgender Patients: Transgender-Affirming Hospital Policies" is designed for all hospitals seeking to align themselves with best practices in transgender care. It answers their questions about transgender patients, shows them how to reduce bias and insensitivity, and addresses key issues such as confidentiality, room assignments, bathroom access, and admitting/registration procedures. The guidance also includes unique model policies that can be adapted to meet the needs of individual hospitals.

This long-awaited publication, authored by experts, will play an important role in eliminating health disparities for transgender people, providing them with patient-centered care, and ensuring equity in the nation's healthcare system.

Read the policies: