Bioethics Blogs

Time to End Discrimination in Providing Medical Care

by Jenji C. Learn, BA

How much are your genitals worth to you? Your beard? Your breasts?

What’s a reasonable price for them? It’s not like you really need them, right?  They aren’t essential organs. They’re purely cosmetic- superficial!

If an accident or a malicious act cost you one of those things, you certainly wouldn’t expect your health insurance to cover it, or expect anyone to feel any sympathy for you. Why should they? That’s your responsibility, and you should pay out of pocket, because after all, you can live just as well without any of that stuff, surely.

If you found what I just said to be shocking, grotesque, callous, offensive, or positively inhuman… then so too must you apply those same words to describe the status of healthcare for trans and intersex people in America.

To this day, not only do most insurance providers and plans not offer coverage for the medications, procedures, and treatments necessary for people trying to transition their primary and secondary anatomical sexual characteristics to those that correspond with the neurophysiology of their brains (or in many cases, even their genomes), but in fact many insurers explicitly hold blanket exclusions or bans on such coverage, in some cases even mandated by law. It was only this year that any steps were taken to begin to end these flagrantly discriminatory exclusions. Instead, a Federal District Court Judge appointed by George Bush Jr, issued a ‘preliminary injunction’ to halt those anti-discrimination protections from being enforced nation-wide, just hours before they were supposed to go into effect on January 1.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.