New York Attorney General to educate medical providers on transgender care

On Friday, May 15th, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced an initiative which will make accessing healthcare more equal for transgender New Yorkers. Under Schneiderman, The Civil Rights Bureau will lead programming aimed at educating medical centers about the legal requirements for treating transgender individuals. Besides the basic legal obligations, the initiative will "promote best practices in the provision of medical care to transgender individuals," according to the press release. Working with the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA), the Civil Rights Bureau has already held a number of sessions for GNYHA members, which include hospitals in New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.

Late last year, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that both private insurance companies and Medicaid would be required to cover some medically-necessary care for transgender people in the state of New York. Cuomo's announcement regarding Medicaid ended an exclusion in place since 1998, which explicitly denied coverage for gender-affirming medical treatments. Almost four times as many transgender Americans live in poverty compared to the overall population, demonstrating the dire need for affordable health coverage. Furthermore, 19% of trans people report having no health insurance.

This advance came after GLAAD, in partnership with the Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP), the Audre Lorde Project, and others, launched a campaign that brought attention to the fight for equal coverage for trans people. Through PSA videos and infographics, the campaign highlighted the vast discrimination that the trans community faces in regards to healthcare, particularly for trans people accessing Medicaid. Thanks to the success of the campaign, transgender people across the state can now more reasonably afford treatment. However, cost is only one hurdle. Many factors bar transgender people from accessing the care they need, whether it's cost or bias.

From the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, "the most extensive survey of transgender discrimination ever undertaken," according to the National Center for Transgender Equality: 50% of those surveyed reported having to teach medical providers about necessary care for trans people, while 19% described being refused care due to being transgender or gender nonconforming.

The new initiative from the Attorney General's office will combat this discrimination in an attempt to make healthcare more equal for all people.