Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit Tuesday on behalf of Naya Taylor—a transgender woman denied medical care after she requested hormone replacement therapy—alleging a violation of the nondiscrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex (which includes gender identity), and require that clinics receiving federal funds treat transgender patients in the same manner as they would any patient under their care.
Senior counsel for Lambda Legal Kenneth Upton says, “The provisions of the Affordable Care Act are clear: Doctors receiving federal funds cannot discriminate in providing patient care just because a person is transgender. Patients such as Naya Taylor place their health and well-being in a doctor’s hands. Ms. Taylor asked for her doctor to provide services similar to those provided to other clinic patients who are not transgender and the doctor and clinic refused, posing a significant risk to Ms. Taylor’s health. The ACA’s nondiscrimination provisions were intended to ensure appropriate medical care for transgender people—a community that already faces a disproportionate amount of discrimination, violence, and suicide rates.”
Dr. Lystila first claimed she was not experienced in providing hormones to transgender people, even though hormone therapy is regularly provided to nontransgender patients in a variety of settings every day. Later, the clinic told Ms. Taylor that it “does not have to treat people like you.” HRT is one of the vital life-saving treatments used to treat gender dysphoria—a recognized, serious medical condition.
The Affordable Care Act is the first federal civil rights law to prohibit health care providers that receive federal funds—such as Dr. Lystila’s medical practice—from discriminating against any individual on the basis of sex for purpose of providing health services. That prohibition extends to discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity, regardless of the actual or perceived gender identity of the individuals involved.
“When they said, ‘we don’t have to treat people like you,’ I felt like the smallest, most insignificant person in the world,” said Naya Taylor. “The doctor and office provide hormone replacement therapy for others at the same clinic, they just refused to do that for me.”
The case is Taylor v. Lystila, and names Dr. Lystila and Carle, an integrated group of health care services, as defendants. A complaint was also filed with the Illinois Human Rights Commission.
Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people, and those with HIV through impact litigation, education, and public policy work.