Ill. Trans Woman Alleges Medical Discrimination, Files Lawsuit

A transgender woman alleges that an Illinois doctor wouldn't treat her after learning about her desire to pursue hormone replacement therapy.

BY Parker Marie Molloy

April 16 2014 5:51 PM ET

Aja Lystila, MD

An Illinois doctor is being sued after allegedly telling a transgender woman that the doctor's clinic "does not have to treat people like [her]." In years past, denying trans people medical care might have been legal, but the Affordable Care Act has changed the landscape, banning medical providers from denying care on the basis of someone's gender identity.

Early last year, Naya Taylor of Mattoon, Ill., made the decision to begin hormone replacement therapy as a means to treat her gender dysphoria. Hormone replacement therapy is among the accepted clinical treatments for transgender people living with dysphoria and has been deemed to be medically necessary for those who request it.

A social worker consulted with Taylor and advised her to reach out to local physician Aja Lystila, MD, to begin a hormone replacement therapy regimen. Lystila's staff told Taylor that they would not be able to accommodate her needs, which would consist of prescriptions and periodic blood labs to measure her body's hormone levels, according to the suit. Last fall Taylor again reached out to Lystila's office, before being turned away a second and third time.

This week Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit on behalf of Taylor, alleging that the actions of Lystila's office violated provisions of the Affordable Care Act designed to prevent discrimination on the basis of one's gender identity.

The experience that Taylor reports is far from unique. According to the 2011 report "Injustice at Every Turn," 19 percent of transgender individuals reported being denied care on the basis of their gender identity. Fifty percent said that they actually had to teach their medical providers about transgender care. Twenty-eight percent of survey respondents postponed care when they became sick or injured out of fear of discrimination. These factors are just a few of the reasons trans people are succeptible to significantly higher rates of HIV infection, use of drugs, alcohol, or tobacco, and suicide attempts than their cisgender (nontrans) counterparts.

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