BREAKING: President Obama Issues Sweeping Healthcare Guidelines That Guarantee Transgender Rights

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The Obama administration has just announced a brand new rule to help protect the rights of transgender Americans by “prohibiting denial of health care or health coverage based on an individual’s sex, including discrimination based on pregnancy, gender identity, and sex stereotyping.” This prohibition extends to health care providers receiving federal backing under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Such providers go across the spectrum of American society. The ACA provides funding for state Medicaid program expansions — although states can turn down the funds, as Florida did. In addition, the Health Resources and Services Administration reports that “The Affordable Care Act established the Community Health Center Fund that provides $11 billion over a 5 year period for the operation, expansion, and construction of health centers throughout the Nation.”

And on top of all that, the Obama Administration has dished out “$36.3 million in funding to 1,113 health centers in all 50 states,” and “$51.3 million in funding to support 210 health centers in 47 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to establish or expand behavioral health services for nearly 440,000 people nationwide.”

As for the relevance of the new regulations, according to Maya Rhodan of Time Magazine, “A 2010 national survey found that 19% of trans men and women were refused services because of their gender identity, 28% said they had been harassed in medical settings, and half said they had to teach their health care provider about caring for transgender people.”

These instances of harassment and discrimination have implications beyond the immediate setting. The already weak trust in the authorities is put down even more, and needed care can be neglected because of a lack of comfortableness with the health system.

This new rule comes on the occasion of sweeping attempts from certain parties on the right to block transgender rights in America. The state of North Carolina is currently engaged in a legal battle with the federal government over the former’s recent “House Bill 2.” Also known as the “bathroom bill,” House Bill 2 restricts transgender individuals to the bathroom corresponding with their “biological sex.”

The reasoning for the legislation masquerades as an attempt to “protect children” from men pretending to be transgender and using the women’s bathroom. The problem of course is that no case under such circumstances has ever been reported. In fact, transgender people are the ones really in danger. Almost 1 in 4 school-age transgender people have reported sexual assault in their educational setting.

On top of that, approximately 1 in 10 transgender people have reported a sexual assault in a healthcare setting. 1 in 10. In addition, 2 percent of transgender people reported being physically attacked in a doctor’s office. Assault and harassment in therapy settings is also a problem.

The Obama administration is thus responding to a real and far reaching problem with this new rule, although it will “not eliminate all discrimination.”

Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Sylvia M. Burwell said the following in a Friday statement:

‘A central goal of the Affordable Care Act is to help all Americans access quality, affordable health care.  Today’s announcement is a key step toward realizing equity within our health care system and reaffirms this Administration’s commitment to giving every American access to the health care they deserve.’

Featured Image is via the U.S. Army on Flickr, Available Under a Creative Commons License.