This month, during Pride, our community makes time to celebrate and takes time to reflect on our history. With an eye towards both celebration and reflection, we have to take stock of the current landscape of LGBTQ healthcare access, especially for those of us who are transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC).

We, the undersigned, as advocates, healthcare providers, patients, and community members, are particularly aware of how far we have come – and how far we still need to go. We applaud Governor Pritzker for his commitment to LGBTQ issues and dedication to ongoing dialogue with community members about the community’s needs. In his first few months in office, Gov. Pritzker’s administration took an important step by removing the Illinois Medicaid coverage exclusion for the surgical treatment of gender dysphoria – a move that eliminates a very serious barrier for some of the most marginalized members of our community.

It is also a move that helps bring Illinois in line with the majority of states – at this moment, Illinois is one of just eight states that prohibit Medicaid coverage for gender affirming procedures. And while many opponents turn to the question of cost for covering these medically necessary procedures, studies show that Medicaid coverage for the surgical treatment of gender dysphoria promotes public health and is cost effective. In choosing to remove the broad ban on all gender affirming procedures, the current administration has advanced the needle toward greater public health for all of Illinois.

However, to truly ensure that we are removing all unneeded barriers to healthcare access for TGNC people, we must revise the current proposed regulation. As written, the proposed regulation is inconsistent with the current medical standards for the treatment of gender dysphoria, as championed by providers in Illinois and nationally who see, work with, and treat TGNC patients. The proposed regulations include a list of procedures that have been erroneously deemed “cosmetic” – a classification that interrupts the patient-provider relationship by prohibiting coverage for lifesaving medical care.

We have shared our concerns about the proposed regulations both in letters to and meetings with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services and members of Governor Pritzker’s administration. We have also submitted formal written comments expressing the need to revise the proposed regulations to remove the harmful restrictions to care for TGNC people.

We in Illinois have the opportunity to make important progress in reducing discrimination against TGNC people. As we reflect on the history of Pride – including the Stonewall Riots – we must remember that our work needs to center and protect the rights of those among us who face the greatest oppression. In that vein, we look forward to the Governor’s administration continuing to advance the work he has set out to accomplish in supporting the LGBTQ community by revising the proposed Medicaid regulation and ensuring that lifesaving care is not unnecessarily and dangerously restricted for TGNC people in Illinois.

AIDS Foundation of Chicago
American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois
Center on Halsted
Equality Illinois
Howard Brown Health
Lambda Legal
The National Center for Transgender Equality
The TransLife Care Program of Chicago House and Social Service Agency