By Julian Aldana
This week, actor Jeffrey Tambor dedicated his big Golden Globe win for his role in the television show Transparent to the trans community. In his acceptance speech, he thanked the large, and largely underrepresented community, for their patience. Although he didn’t clarify what he meant by that, I assume he said this to help secure sensitive and accurate representation in the media — representation, which, in the wake of the death of transgender teenager Leelah Alcorn, could potentially save lives.
In recent years, there have been several small and not so small victories for the trans community. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was one of them and it’s worth examining now as it deserves national acclaim, too. The ACA forbids discrimination of sexual orientation and gender identity in health care — the first time a federal law has ever done so.
Across the country, young trans and gender non-conforming individuals are faced with a lack a sensitivity or awareness every day; one only has to look down a school hallway or in a restaurant, where bathrooms are offered to two types of people — men and women. This example alone makes the ACA more inclusive than most public facilities or businesses in the United States.
But the ACA isn’t just inclusive. The meat of the law is meant to produce better health outcomes for all young adults, including trans Millennials. In the past, transgender and gender non-conforming individuals frequently faced refusal of care, harassment and violence from service providers, and a general lack of knowledge when it comes to trans health. Because of this, LGBTQ adults of all ages are nearly twice as likely to delay seeking medical attention than their heterosexual adults. Because of the ACA, more access is available to trans millennials who need medical care.
This includes mental health services. In a national survey on trans health and health care, over 41 percent of trans individuals, reported attempting suicide. Under the ACA, mental health services are one of the ten Essential Health Benefits covered on most plans. Leelah Alcorn was unfortunately unable to access the help she needed, but the ACA will hopefully save the lives of trans young adults still struggling to become who they are.
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