Gender Identity Discrimination in Insurance and Health Care

July 24, 2007

The American Medical Association (AMA) recently voted to add gender identity to its non-discrimination policies. The AMA’s policies condemn invidious discrimination in a wide variety of health care-related areas including patient care, physician training, and health insurance.

Equality Advocates applauds this important step in condemning health care and insurance discrimination against the transgender community. As most people reading this blog are probably aware, health care and insurance discrimination against members of the transgender community are huge problems. The policy change of the AMA – adding gender identity to their list of invidious forms of discrimination, alongside other classifications such as race and sex – is an important first step to changing the culture of the medical and insurance establishment in this area. It makes clear that the leading medical professionals do not believe that gender identity discrimination is a legitimate basis for insurance underwriting or health care practices.

The policy will not, of course, by itself solve the numerous problems that currently exist in this area. Insurers, and to a lesser extent medical professionals, have long taken the position that gender identity is a perfectly legitimate basis for discrimination. It will take more than a change in policy, even one by a highly respected entity such as the AMA, to make a major dent in this outlook.

Equality Advocates is working to do its part by taking on cases where we can help transgender clients to hold insurers and health professionals accountable for their discriminatory practices. We recently had a major victory in which an insurer was compelled to reimburse our client for her sex reassignment surgery. Other cases remain pending, and we are hopeful that they will add to the incremental change in this area.

Please contact us if you have experienced insurance and/or health care discrimination and are interested in taking action. We can be reached through our legal hotline, (215) 731-1447, Ext. 15 (866-LGBT LAW outside the Philadelphia area).