Trans Group Unveils “Know Your Rights” in COVID Crisis

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The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund imagery highlights the organization’s guide to coronavirus.

The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) has released a pair of guides — one national and one New York-based — for transgender folks navigating the coronavirus crisis, including information on the status of gender-affirming medical care, tenants’ rights, and labor laws.

The guides were created in the midst of drastic changes that are poised to disproportionately impact marginalized communities, including folks who are non-binary or transgender. The New York Transgender Advocacy Group (NYTAG) and the Translatina Network (TransLatinx Network) partnered with TLDEF to create the New York-based guide.

First and foremost, the guide addresses a handful of medical questions that could arise should someone seek healthcare treatment. The guide reminds trans individuals that medical providers and facilities are barred by federal law from discriminating against people on the basis of gender identity in healthcare settings, even as the Trump administration has sought ways to curtail those rights. Individuals have the right to be addressed by their name and with their pronoun, to use facilities consistent with their gender identity, and to be treated regardless of their gender identity. The New York-specific guide notes that additional non-discrimination laws further protect individuals in this state.

But the strain on hospitals as a result of an influx of coronavirus cases means that procedures that are not deemed essential, such as transition-related surgery, could be postponed.

“Each surgery is evaluated on a case-by-case basis, so make sure to communicate with your surgeon about whether your surgery will be postponed,” the guide states. “While it can be extremely difficult to wait, remember it is postponed, not cancelled.”

Those seeking to change their name could also run into roadblocks for the time being. Courts are closed for “non-essential” business, so individuals are advised to check with their attorneys or visit the court’s home page. There could also be delays in obtaining a change in a person’s gender marker, also due to the halting of non-essential services.

Advocates have pressed government officials to provide more relief for renters who will soon face their April 1 due date. Evictions and foreclosures have been suspended in New York until June 18 and mortgage payments can be suspended for 90 days. The nationwide guide states that folks are “most likely not” liable to lose their home for now. Those who rent or have a mortgage through the federal government cannot be evicted through at least late May 2020.

The guides also provide information on how and where to file complaints pertaining to hospitals, doctors and other health professionals, the federal government, HIPAA, and state and local non-discrimination laws. A local and national appendix is included in the guides with a range of resources related to immigration, senior centers, legal assistance, general and mental health, and more.

To read the New York-based guide, click here. The national guide can be found here. For general information, click here.