A.G. Schneiderman Launches Initiative To Ensure Equal Access To Medical Care For Transgender Individuals

Schneiderman: All New Yorkers Deserve Equal Access To Quality Medical Care Regardless Of Their Gender Identity

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a new initiative to ensure equal access to medical care for transgender individuals across New York State. As part of the initiative, the Attorney General’s Civil Rights Bureau will provide programming to hospitals and medical centers about legal requirements for transgender individuals in New York, as well as best practices in providing care to this patient population. The goal of the initiative is to promote best practices in the provision of medical care to transgender individuals.

The Attorney General’s initiative seeks to protect the rights of transgender individuals and to address the particular issues that arise in the healthcare context. A recent 2011 national survey conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force found that 24 percent of transgender people have been denied equal treatment in a doctor’s office or hospital. Problems faced by transgender individuals include harassment, denial of care, restrictions on access to gender-specific facilities, and invasion of privacy through inappropriate questions. Lack of awareness in health care settings can impair access to and lead to disparities within the health care system for this population.

“My office is committed to ensuring equal and respectful access to medical care for all New Yorkers, regardless of their gender identity,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “We are proud to partner with hospitals and health care centers across New York State to help educate and raise awareness around the specific needs and challenges transgender individuals face when seeking basic medical care.”

Kenneth E. Raske, president of the Greater New York Hospital Association, said, “GNYHA’s member hospitals are committed to promoting the best standards of care and treatment for transgender patients. GNYHA and our members are proud to work alongside Attorney General Schneiderman to promote best practices to ensure that all patients receive the best care, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.”

M. Dru Levasseur, Director of the Transgender Rights Project at Lambda Legal and co-author of Creating Access to Quality Health Care for Transgender Patients: Transgender-Affirming Hospital Policies, said, “We were thrilled that the Attorney General spearheaded this first-of-its kind initiative in New York to discourage gender identity discrimination in health care. We look forward to continuing to work together to help hospitals meet the needs of transgender patients across the state.”

Erin Meyer, Pro Bono Associate at Hogan Lovells, and co-author of the report, said, “By encouraging adoption of the best practices developed by Lambda Legal, the New York City Bar Association’s LGBT Committee, and the Human Rights Campaign, the Attorney General’s groundbreaking work will promote trans-affirming policies in the medical context and help to ensure equal access to health care.”

As part of the first phase of the initiative, the Attorney General’s Civil Rights Bureau led a series of briefings for the Greater New York Hospital Association (“GNYHA”), a membership organization of hospitals in the New York City metropolitan region and throughout New York State, as well as New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Working with GNYHA, as well as experts from Lambda Legal and GNYHA member hospitals, the office led a series of briefings for GNYHA’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (“LGBT”) Workgroup. In turn, leaders within the LGBT Workgroup will provide education to member hospitals about the unique challenges faced by LGBT patients including harassment and denial of care. The target audience included a variety of hospital administrators – e.g. diversity and quality officers, legal counsel, and compliance personnel. The training program addressed:

  • the legal framework of protections for transgender individuals; 
  • the nature and extent of discrimination experienced by transgender individuals in accessing health care; and 
  • identification of best practices for hospitals.

During the briefings, hospital participants asked questions, shared experiences, and discussed the real-world application of these policies, including the use of technology in managing patient information, the presentation of case studies in training, and the dissemination of antidiscrimination policies and patients’ bills of rights. The briefings have also provided an opportunity to focus upon implementation issues at member hospitals.

The Attorney General is committed to protecting the rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people. As part of this commitment, the Attorney General has urged the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the right to marry nationwide; investigated and secured agreements with employers to ensure equal treatment of legally married same sex couples; worked with professional sports leagues, including the NFLMLB and MLS, to strengthen protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation; reviewed school districts statewide to ensure compliance with the anti-bullying mandate of the Dignity for All Students Act and is working to combat discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the workplace.

This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Sandra Pullman and Justin Deabler. The Civil Rights Bureau, led by Chief Kristen Clarke, is part of the Division of Social Justice, which is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Alvin Bragg.

To report a complaint regarding LGBT discrimination or for more information regarding the initiative, contact the Attorney General’s Civil Rights Bureau at 212-416-8250 or civil.rights@ag.ny.gov

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