NYC Public Advocate Advances Transgender Healthcare Rights Legislation In City Council

June 12th, 2023

Press Release

As the rights of transgender individuals continue to be under attack nationwide, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams today advanced his legislation to affirm the rights of transgender New Yorkers in the hospital system. At a joint hearing of the Committee on Women and Gender Equity and the Committee on Health, he advocated passage of a bill to combat the inequities and injustices that transgender patients have long faced in healthcare settings.

“Transgender people have experienced oppression and barriers in different aspects of their lives, whether it pertains to healthcare or social and economic elements,” said Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams to the committee. “These factors, coupled with high rates of discrimination and violence can impact the health disparities that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. These impacts will continue to be felt in the future if we do not start to close the gaps. Through legislation, we can build a more inclusive and equitable City that ensures accessible healthcare to our transgender New Yorkers.”

The bill, Intro 066, would require the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to distribute signs on an individual’s right to be referred to by a preferred name, title, gender and pronoun to every hospital in the city.

This bill would also require DOHMH to establish guidance to encourage hospitals to list and conspicuously post the transgender-specific services offered by each hospital, and would require DOHMH to post such guidance on its website. DOHMH would also be required to coordinate with hospitals to update such list of transgender-specific services, and post the list of services and any updates on the department’s website.

1 in 3 transgender individuals report having to educate their doctors about basic transgender issues in order to receive appropriate care. About the same proportion of trans individuals who have seen a healthcare provider in the last year report having had at least one negative experience related to being transgender. As a result, 27% of transgender people report having not seen a doctor in the past year for fear of being mistreated.

When the bill was first introduced, the Public Advocate released a short-form documentary piece highlighting the obstacles that transgender and gender non-conforming New Yorkers face in accessing quality, gender-affirming health care. The piece, entitled Our Healthcare, features a roundtable discussion between members of the Office of the Public Advocate and a panel of transgender activists – watch it here.

“We have a duty to support and affirm transgender people,” closed the Public Advocate. “...While New York has made these great strides, transgender people still face barriers and gaps within the healthcare system. This bill creates clear guidelines for hospitals to follow and ensure there is more awareness and visibility for transgender people when they seek medical care. We must create a system of support that reiterates this city’s full commitment.”

Read the Public Advocate’s full statement to the committee below.

STATEMENT OF PUBLIC ADVOCATE JUMAANE D. WILLIAMS

TO THE NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL COMMITTEE ON

WOMEN AND GENDER EQUITY AND COMMITTEE ON HEALTH

JUNE 12, 2023

Good morning, 

My name is Jumaane D. Williams and I am the Public Advocate for the City of New York. Thank you very much Chair Cabán and Chair Schulman and members of the Committee on Women and Gender Equity and Committee on Health for holding this hearing and allowing me the opportunity to provide a statement on the bill I am introducing. 

For the past three years, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a rippling effect on all of us across a range of intersecting issues. However, it has been amplified among marginalized communities of more color. Transgender New Yorkers have experienced oppression and barriers in different aspects of their lives, whether it pertains to healthcare or social and economic elements. These factors coupled with high rates of discrimination and violence can impact the health disparities that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. These impacts will continue to be felt in the future if we do not start to close the gaps. Through legislation, we can build a more inclusive and equitable City that ensures accessible healthcare to our transgender New Yorkers. 

Healthcare in the United States has rarely proactively considered the impact on transgender non-confirming patients. It is important to have signage readily available and accessible to transgender patients who want to know their rights and services that are offered at hospitals. Int 0066-2022 would ensure this happens by requiring the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to distribute signs on individual’s rights to be referred to by a preferred name, title, gender and pronoun to every hospital in the city. This bill would also require DOHMH to establish guidance to encourage hospitals to list and conspicuously post the transgender-specific services offered by each hospital, and would require DOHMH to post such guidance on its website. DOHMH would also be required to coordinate with hospitals to update such lists of transgender-specific services, and post the list of services and any updates on the department’s website.

There has been nationwide backlash towards transgender Americans. The banning of gender-affirming care by 21 states such as Texas, Florida, and recently Missouri, is one of the many anti-trans legislation that has passed. These legislation will threaten the lives and well-being of so many people. More young people will be at risk due to not receiving the care they need, and will be endangered by this discriminatory law. As of 2023, there have been 556 bills introduced that block trans Americans from receiving basic healthcare, education, legal recognition, and the right to publicly exist within 49 states. 83 of them have passed, 369 of them are active, and 104 of them have failed. We have a duty to support and affirm transgender Americans and New Yorkers. In 2014, New York H+H/Metropolitan was the first City hospital to open a health center dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community. Today there are a total of six centers that provide these crucial services with H+H Metropolitan Hospital in East Harlem being the most recent. While New York has made these great strides, transgender New Yorkers still face barriers and gaps within the healthcare system. This bill creates clear guidelines for hospitals to follow and ensure there is more awareness and visibility for transgender people when they seek medical care. We must create a system of support that reiterates this city’s full commitment. I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting this bill. Now is the time to take swift action.

I do want to make sure that all New Yorkers are clear that we have to make sure that everyone has the care they need without exception, and the minute we provide an exception, none of us are safe. I also always want to make sure to lift up Black trans women in particular, who are bearing the brunt of violence and discrimination against them. 

Thank you. 

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