SLC filed a lawsuit in federal court in January of 2020 challenging the State of Florida’s exclusion of coverage for the gender-affirming medical needs of transgender state employees, citing Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The case is now at the summary judgment stage and is under consideration by the honorable Judge Mark Eaton Walker in the Northern District of Florida. Motions for summary judgment and other pleadings are on SLC’s Promoting LGBTQ+ Equality page.
Access to health care is a pillar of economic security, well-being, and meaningful participation in society. While the strategic, coordinated attack on the rights of transgender individuals in the 2021 legislative session brought these issues to the forefront of national debate, these issues are not novel, and the discriminatory exclusion of medically necessary gender-affirming care has long plagued transgender youth and adults alike.
Transgender individuals in this country suffer some of the most significant health disparities. This is illustrated by the findings of a study by the National Center for Transgender Equality, which paints a troubling picture of the impact of discrimination and lack of access to medical care on the health of transgender people. A staggering 39% of trans individuals experience serious psychological distress (nearly eight times the average among the U.S. population, which is 5%), and 40% of trans individuals have attempted suicide in their lifetime (nearly nine times the 4.6% rate in the U.S. population). Transgender individuals also encounter disproportionate levels of mistreatment when seeking health care. For instance, one-third (33%) have had a negative experience with a health-care provider related to being transgender, such as being verbally harassed or refused treatment because of their gender identity. Additionally, nearly one-quarter (23%) of transgender individuals have reported not seeking medical care they needed due to fear of being mistreated and inability to afford the care.
Even among transgender individuals who do have access to affirming medical providers and medically-necessary gender-affirming care, many have health insurance plans containing discriminatory categorical exclusions that carve out their medical needs for unequal treatment. This reality persists even though major medical organizations and the overwhelming consensus among medical experts support treatments for gender dysphoria, including surgical procedures, as effective, safe, and medically necessary for many transgender persons to alleviate their gender dysphoria.