Impact of HHS ‘Conscience’ Rule on Transgender Health

For Immediate Release
January 18, 2018

Media Contact
Rachel Dowd
(310) 206-8982 (office) | (310 855-2696 (cell)

Jocelyn Samuels, former Director of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, available

LOS ANGELES — The Trump Administration is expected today to expand protections for health care workers who refuse to provide health services, including health care for transgender patients and abortions, for religious or moral reasons.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights (HHS OCR), which is charged with enforcing federal civil rights laws related to health care, is also expected to establish a new division at the agency dedicated to enforcing this policy.

Williams Institute Executive Director Jocelyn Samuels, former Director of HHS OCR from 2014 to the end of the Obama Administration, said, “Research demonstrates the health disparities and discrimination to which the transgender community is subject. This new rule is likely to result in denials of critical health care to this vulnerable community in ways that will fundamentally undermine their health and wellbeing.” Jocelyn Samuels is available for comment.

Transgender people have experienced persistent and pervasive discrimination in access to health care and by health care providers, which contributes to health disparities for this population:

  • In a recent study, transgender individuals had a higher prevalence of poor general health, more days per month of poor physical and mental health, and a higher prevalence of myocardial infarction.
  • Yet, the same study found that more transgender than cisgender people lacked health care coverage and a health care provider.
  • According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS), one-third (33 percent) of those who saw a health care provider in the past year reported having at least one negative experience related to being transgender.
  • In the year prior to the USTS, 23 percent of respondents did not see a doctor when they needed to because of fear of being mistreated as a transgender person.
  • One-quarter of USTS respondents experienced a problem in the past year with their insurance related to being transgender, such as being denied coverage for care related to gender transition or being denied coverage for routine care because they were transgender

In the United States, there are an estimated 1.55 million adults and youth identify as transgender, according to Williams Institute research.


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