Affordable Care Act ensures quality care for transgender patients

Illinois doctors have a commitment to provide the same quality care to all patients at all times. When a doctor discriminates against a patient, the patient could receive negligent medical care. This could cause irreversible harm.

All folks should have protection under the 1977 Human Rights Law to be treated with “respect,” but a recent survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality found that 20 percent of transgender individuals have been discriminated against in medical settings. This may be due to shock by doctors who are unsettled by their patients’ transgender orientation, or because of fear of medical malpractice lawsuits when treating transgender patients.

A transgender male with a medical background faced this discrimination when he was battling a rare and very aggressive form of breast cancer. According to the patient, his doctor didn’t tell him the results of a biopsy after he discovered the patient’s orientation. The patient would not have known he had cancer if it were not for a concerned lab technician who called to check up on him.

After learning that he had breast cancer, another doctor refused to advise the transgender patient on treatment options. In the meantime, the therapeutic window for his form of cancer had passed. The patient may be faced with a terminal diagnosis, but he still has not found an oncologist who will treat him.

The federal Affordable Care Act now mandates protection for transgender individuals. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the new healthcare law specifies that it is illegal for federally funded health care programs to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual or transgender patients. The law ensures that patients such as this man will get the same quality medical treatment that all individuals are entitled to receive.

We live in a diverse country, but people’s race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age should not affect the type of care patients receive from Illinois doctors and other doctors throughout the entire country.

Source: ABC News, “Trans Man Denied Cancer Treatment; Now Feds Say It’s Illegal,” Susan Donaldson James, August 8, 2012.