by Bob Roehr
The American Medical Association (AMA) amended its nondiscrimination policies to include transgender persons at the annual meeting of the AMA House of Delegates in Chicago, which ended on June 27.
The comprehensive change in policy affects all aspects of the functioning of the AMA, including relations with patients, employment issues, and insurance coverage. It also will affect accreditation of medical schools.
The report recommending the changes noted that “Transgender individuals face complex medical, psychological, and social issues. Within the health care system issues of discrimination and unique access barriers to important medical and social support services can occur.” This can lead to perceived and real discrimination against those individuals.
“The AMA has said that it is time for this discrimination to stop,” said Joel Ginsberg, executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, which had helped to push for the change.
“Last October we were contacted by a transgender medical student in California whose dean insisted on identifying him as transgender in his application for a surgical residency program,” he said.
Ginsberg related how one of their members told her business partner that she was planning on transitioning. “He threatened to dissolve the partnership and take all the patients. She had no choice but to walk away and start over.”
He believes the AMA policy statement also will carry weight with state and local governments that are considering changing their laws with regard to protection of gender identity, as well as their health coverage of those individuals.
Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, took particular note of the AMA’s call for an end to the discriminatory insurance policies that trans persons often face. Those policies often do not cover things such as surgery to make a full transition, or hormone therapy once a transition is complete.
She called it “a great step in moving the American healthcare system in a direction of more fairness for transgender people.”