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Landmark Victory Achieved in Cruz v. Zucker

LAS Awards Small

Part of the legal team and Angie Cruz, our plaintiff, at Legal Aid Society’s Awards.

This week, transgender New Yorkers eligible for Medicaid received the life-affirming news that trans-specific health care coverage is required by law for individuals, regardless of their age. This victory extends from the case Cruz v. Zucker which the Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP) filed in conjunction with our co-counsels, The Legal Aid Society and Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP.

This is a monumental victory for New Yorkers who have waited almost 20 years to have this medically necessary health care provided. As lead plaintiff Angie Cruz recently stated, “This case has changed lives […] it gives access to necessary health care which will not only make medical transition easier but give our whole community such hope.”

Ms. Cruz made these remarks in a speech prior to awarding Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP with The Legal Aid Society’s 2016 Honorable Jonathan Lippman New York Pro Bono Publico & Public Service Law Firm Award. You can view all of Ms. Cruz’s incredible speech here.

Ms. Cruz went on to say “This case will […] also help people be free from the stress, anxiety, and depression that I personally experienced in the past.[ …] This case pulled away the secrecy for people and opened a door that was closed for decades.”

In his order, Judge Rakoff affirmed that there were no longer any genuine disputes of fact concerning the medical necessity of trans-specific health care for Medicaid-eligible youth under the age of 18. In finding this, Judge Rakoff reconsidered an earlier summary judgment order. Judge Rakoff will provide further reasoning and final judgment in this case by the end of November.

As we wait to hear more from the Court, SRLP wishes to thank not only Ms. Cruz and the many other transgender New Yorkers who added their names to this lawsuit, but also the thousands of transgender New Yorkers who have fought for this change over the past decades. Our legal victory is only possible because of the voices raised, the stories shared, and the fierce determination to fight back against injustice.

We know that we will be calling upon all of you in the coming months to assist us in implementing these changes, monitoring compliance, and providing the vital work of educating each other on our right to health care. Please consider supporting SRLP’s ongoing work to ensure access to healthcare for all by donating.