Today, collective members of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP) spoke out at the HxRefactored Conference, a tech-focused health event held in New York City, about the state Department of Health's discriminatory regulation banning access to Medicaid coverage for transgender healthcare. The conference was attended by New York Department of Health Commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker. As Zucker began to speak, SRLP members joined him on stage, holding a banner and informing conference attendees about the history of this harmful regulation, and urging them to take action to end transgender healthcare discrimination.
Conference attendees shared tweets about the action:
— erica chain (@ericachain) May 14, 2014
Unexpected (but well mannered) protestors invade stage at #HxR2014 to demand Howard Zucker & NY Medicaid cover transgernder people
— Matthew Holt (@boltyboy) May 14, 2014
— Dr Vladimir Choi (@vladimirchoi) May 14, 2014
SRLP members and trans advocates also tweeted support for the action:
— Justin Vivian Bond (@mxjustinVbond) May 14, 2014
— DarkMatter (@DarkMatterRage) May 14, 2014
— Jennifer Patterson (@YesThisJennifer) May 14, 2014
— Carmelita Cruz (@carms2) May 14, 2014
In 1998, the New York Department of Health proposed a regulation that specifically denies healthcare coverage to transgender people through Medicaid. The same treatments that people who are not transgender can access through New York's public insurance plan, such as hormone treatments and surgical procedures, are denied to transgender and gender non-conforming people just because of who they are.
For more than a decade, advocates and SRLP collective members have met with government officials overseeing the regulation, written letters, filed lawsuits, and marched outside the offices of the Department of Health demanding that the regulation be repealed. In November, SRLP and GLAAD launched a series of PSA videos featuring transgender advocates, family members, and healthcare providers calling for an end to the discriminatory Medicaid regulation and emphasizing the need for transgender healthcare coverage. An online petition shared widely by trans community members and supporters calling for an end to the ban has garnered thousands of signatures.