One year ago today my heart leapt with joy, today my heart has dread and fear. Last year the ACA made a beautiful day possible. Today, the possibility of the AHCA threatens the future of that moment. I want this anniversary to be a precious memory of a beginning, not a bittersweet remembrance of what might have been for my son.
One year ago today my son sat in a room with a nurse who was gently teaching him how to inject testosterone to start his medical transition. To get to this point he had to see a LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker-a therapist) for a year to prove that he understood what he was doing and the implications of his transition. My son did the heavy lifting.
He sat there at a table with the nurse as she showed him all the elements of a syringe, needles, cleansing tools and a vial. The nurse’s warmth was a stark contrast to the cold nature of most medical exam rooms. She showed him step by step how to attach the needle to the syringe, draw the appropriate amount from the vial, ensure the syringe is safe from an air bubble, and inject. He was nervous, but he had it down after only two practice runs. Now came the moment of truth, his first self administered injection.
I stood anxiously with my hands in the front pockets of my jeans as the nurse coached him and encouraged him to inject himself. He steadied his shaky hand with the other and cried. He wanted to do it, but he was afraid. So very afraid. We said encouraging words to him and in his anxiety he kept saying he could not do it. Finally, with a countdown and a deep breath, he did it.
His face went from fear to elation as he exclaimed,”I did it! It wasn’t bad at all! I did it!” He was beaming. All of us in the room celebrated his victory and I was so very proud of him. Within moments of his important moment, the nurse used my phone to take the photo above so we could remember this day. The day he took his first testosterone injection.
Since that wonderful day, I have seen the magic of transformation. His voice has deepened and his body is changing. Recently I had the honor of teaching him how to shave. To celebrate that achievement I got him a proper double edged safety razor, shave brush, and lather mug. All of the physical and medical changes started a year ago today. How did the ACA (Obamacare) help make this possible? I am glad I asked for you.
How the ACA Made This Day Possible
Prior to ACA, many medical providers and insurance companies could, and would, deny treatment to transgender people stating that gender dysphoria is a pre existing condition. Section 1557 of the ACA protects “health services related to gender transition”.
“The range of transition-related services, which includes treatment for gender dysphoria, is not limited to surgical treatments, and may include, but is not limited to, services such as hormone therapy and psychotherapy, which may occur over the lifetime of the individual,” – Excerpt: Section 1157
The hospital we went to embraced him as he was. The physicians, the nurses, the psychiatrist, the LCSW, and all the staff support him and their billable services are covered by insurance. The medicine and supplies to inject the medicine is covered by insurance.
Is this a perfect world? No. Even with section 1557, there are still other health care providers and pharmacists that can be problematic. But there is progress and sometimes there is recourse to address grievances and affect change.
How the AHCA Could Threaten The Future
We do not have a final bill, but we do have indications from the abomination (I get to use that word) that just passed the House of Representatives. Pre-existing conditions could be back in play. If that were to happen, many transgender people would have to choose between paying out of pocket for their medical transition needs or spending that money other things, like groceries and a roof over their head. Refusal of medical services could be allowed. Currently we do not have religious exemption to discriminate. Under the new AHCA, that could happen again. This reality concerns me.
Recently, I have had some differences with the United Methodist Church. I wrote about my concerns in a prior blog entry where I responded to transphobic comments by UMC ministers. The UMC has hospitals with emergency rooms all over America. So does the Catholic church. There are other large denominations that operate emergency rooms and hospitals. I could not find the stats, but according to the ACLU, one in six hospital beds in America are Catholic run. We are one religious exemption away from transgender people potentially being restricted from necessary healthcare. Including non transition related healthcare.
Help Me Preserve Beauty
There is a bill that has passed the House. It is not a law yet. It still has to go through the Senate. Educate yourselves on the impact on not only Transgender people, but all people who would be affected. Tell your Senators how you feel about the ACA and the AHCA. Protest. Write. Donate. Support.
I want this day’s anniversary to continue to be a beginning.