We hear a lot these days about the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as “Obamacare.” There’s one particular section of the legislation that I want to write about here … the section that deals with LGBTQ folks.
Let me say this upfront: I don’t know how this will be affected when the incoming administration nixes the AHA as it is already in the process of doing. With that question momentarily out of the way, here’s what I’ve learned about 1557 and what a win it is for the LGBTQ community.
Section 1557 says all LGBTQ people are protected from discrimination in health insurance coverage and health care. That in and of itself is wonderful, in my opinion. (Of course, I think they should be protected from discrimination in any form!) So, by law, doctors must treat someone who’s LGBTQ the same way they’d treat someone who isn’t. While that should be a no-brainer, unfortunately, it’s not. Many in the LGBT world avoid going to do the doctor for fear of discrimination or hostility based on their lifestyles. How sad is that?!
Another cool part of the law? Trans patients must be allowed to be housed in a room according to the gender they identify with, not the gender of their birth.
I’m all for that.
Think about nursing homes. Until section 1557, someone who’s trans would’ve been forced to share a room based on the gender of their birth certificate. So a woman who transitioned to become a woman 20 years ago had to share a room with a man because her birth certificate said she was born male. Doesn’t matter that she’s identified as female for two decades — she was born with a penis and therefore housed with a man. Period.
Section 1557 changes that. She’s now free to room with another female.
However, it could create an interesting scenario… say you’ve got a trans man sharing the same nursing home room as a CIS man. If the CIS guy has a tough time comprehending the idea of a transgender man, it could be an explosive situation. Talk about forced integration!
But it could also potentially help the CIS patient to better understand how he and his roommate are similar, and better understand their differences. (I am guessing that the trans guy probably already has a decent sense of that.) I know I might sound like Pollyana, always hoping for the best in every situation, but I love the idea that perhaps this ruling could do more than protect LGBTQ rights. Maybe, just maybe, it could help some of teh more close-minded people grasp where someone else is coming from — and that the LGBTQ community poses no threat.
Imagine how much we could learn about each other if we were forced to treat a patient or share a room with someone we didn’t understand.
I’ll post an update if I learn whether Section 1557 will go the way of the dodo bird when the rest of the ACA is repealed. Fingers crossed it will remain untouched.