We are still celebrating this month’s defeat of Initiative 1515, which would have rolled back protections for transgender Washingtonians that allow them to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity. But we know that transgender people don’t just face discrimination and humiliation in restrooms—they often face these same barriers when accessing health care.
Over the last two years, we have made a lot of progress in fighting refusals to provide health care to transgender people. We are excited to announce another victory!
Our client is a transgender woman who lives in Eastern Washington. After years of counseling and hormone therapy, she was ready for the next phase of medically necessary gender-affirming surgery, and the Washington State Health Care Authority referred her to an experienced provider. But when she called to schedule her procedure, she was told that the hospital would not provide care to her because she was transgender, claiming religious reasons.
We knew this denial of treatment was a clear violation of the Washington Law Against Discrimination. So, in partnership with Denise Diskin of Teller & Associates, we worked with our client to demand fair treatment and compensation for the humiliation she suffered.
We are thrilled to announce that our client and the hospital have reached a settlement. The hospital will pay our client $50,000 for the harm she suffered, and agreed to train all its employees on providing respectful care to transgender patients. As our client put it, “I feel good knowing we were victorious after 10 months of hard work. I cried many happy tears. The fact that the hospital will be training their staff to properly treat and accommodate the LGBT community after this incident is of great importance to me. That is the real victory in all of this.”
We feel good about this result too, but we know many transgender people continue to be denied medically necessary care. Legal Voice will continue working as a member of the Coalition for Inclusive Healthcare to ensure all transgender people in Washington receive the care they need with respect and dignity.
– Religion Is Not A License to Discriminate, GSBA’s The Perspective 8/25/16