Transgender patients are reportedly being denied treatment at a hospital in D.C. despite a recent law that guarantees insurance coverage. Advocacy group Casa Ruby says at least 20 transgender people seeking operations have recently been turned away from Medstar Georgetown University Hospital explicitly because of their transgender status.
"Basically what happened with Georgetown was that they decided to be a little bit more upfront and say it is because of your transgender status that we do not want to treat you," Ruby Jade Corado, transgender activist, and founder of Casa Ruby, told Fusion.
Corado said she herself called the hospital after referrals from her doctor to have her breast implants removed, but was told that the surgeons no longer treat transgender women. She said no further explanation was given.
Medstar Georgetown did not respond to requests for comment. But in a statement to the Washington Blade, spokesperson Marianne Worley said, "MedStar Georgetown University Hospital does not have a policy on assisting with gender transition; it is just not a comprehensive service that we currently offer," while insisting that the hospital does not discriminate because of patients' gender identity.
Corado says the hospital was accepting transgender patients and was willing to perform surgeries related to gender transitions as recently as January. The Washington Blade writes:
One source familiar with the hospital who spoke on condition of not being identified said some members of the medical staff at the hospital reported hearing that transgender-related surgery was discontinued earlier this year after complaints were lodged by conservative Catholic officials affiliated with Georgetown University.
Last year, District of Columbia Mayor Vincent C. Gray made it illegal for insurance companies not to cover procedures and healthcare costs related to gender identity and expression.
The Washington Blade first reported the claims that the hospital is refusing to treat transgender patients in June, with the news that transgender woman Alexa Rodriguez filed a complaint with D.C.'s Office of Human Rights (OHR) after being denied breast implant surgery on the grounds of her gender identity.
Corado told Fusion that she knows of at least five cases like Rodriguez's filed with D.C.'s OHR, alleging human rights violations by hospitals refusing treatment to transgender patients.
"They're violating the Human Rights Act because they specifically are saying that because someone is transgender they're not willing to do anything," she said.
A spokesperson for the Office of Human Rights said they couldn't discuss cases they may be investigating, or verify that complaints were lodged, unless allegations are confirmed.
Under the Affordable Care Act, hospitals with federal funding cannot discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The National Center for Transgender Equality says on their website, "In recent years, courts have increasingly held that sex nondiscrimination protections prohibit discrimination against people who are transgender or who fail to conform to gender stereotypes."
Despite landmark steps forward in LGBT rights like the Supreme Court's recent ruling in favor of marriage equality, transgender rights in particular are still open to abuse in many states.
A study from a think tank called the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) found that in 41 states, there is no specific legal protection against healthcare discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.
Read Fusion's in-depth look at the discrimination still faced by transgender people across America.