This New York State proposal is groundbreaking.
by Danielle Sinay
Imagine being forced to physically become, and live in the body of, the sex you don’t identify with. Now imagine going through this not because you have to, but because you can’t afford the one thing that could stop it. Sounds pretty awful, right?
Well, this happens to trangender teens all the time.
Fortunately, the New York State Health Department has tackled this issue head-on, proposing a groundbreaking rule that could change the lives of transgender youth forever. If approved, Medicaid will cover medically-necessary hormones, like pubertal suppressants and cross-sex hormone therapy, for teenagers who identify with a different sex than they were assigned at birth.
This is a huge deal, because right now in New York, Medicaid only covers hormone therapy for adults. But a lack of access of hormones is especially detrimental for adolescents and teens: teens go through puberty, and puberty is when physical traits associated with sex – like breasts and facial hair – start to appear. For transgender youth, puberty’s not just a pain – it’s traumatic.
Because feeling like you’re physically becoming the wrong sex is devastating, and can trigger Gender Dysphoria: when someone’s emotional and psychological identity is opposite to that of their biological sex, making them anxious, depressed, and sometimes, suicidal.
To clarify: it’s not that teens aren’t allowed to take hormones, it’s how expensive they are. Most people need insurance to help cover the costs of medication, and since Medicaid is a health insurance program specifically for low-income people, it’s low-income teens who unfairly suffer the consequences.
Hopefully this will change soon, but until then, we are here to support our LGBTQ friends and loved ones.
Good luck, New York!
If you or someone you know is experiencing emotional distress, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1?800?273?TALK (8255) or Live Online Chat. If you identify as LGBTQ and are looking for support, call the GLBT National Youth Talkline at 1-800-246-PRIDE (1-800-246-7745).