On Friday June 26, the Christopher Street Pier was alive with trans* and gender non-conforming advocates, community members, survivors, and organizers rallying with the Audre Lorde Project’s TransJustice demanding an end to state violence in detention centers, prisons, and psychiatric hospitals at the hands of police and other state actors. We were demanding that the voices of trans and gender non-conforming people of color and low income people be centered in the work that we do. It was an exciting and beautiful day to feel deeply re-grounded in the work that the Sylvia Rivera Law Project does to center the needs and voices of trans* and gender non-conforming people of color and low-income people.
In the middle of the Action, SRLP received news that was both exciting and a sign of the work that lies before us. As many readers know, SRLP – in partnership with the Legal Aid Society and Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP – is involved in the ongoing class action lawsuit Cruz v. Zucker, which challenges the State’s historical refusal to cover trans healthcare for Medicaid recipients and their current denial in covering many medically necessary procedures for trans* people. Previously, the State filed a Motion to dismiss the case and bring the litigation to an end. But late on Friday the Court issued an order, denying the State’s Motion to Dismiss almost in its entirety – meaning that our case is permitted to go forward.
The lawsuit will now proceed on the following claims:
– That the State must provide certain medical assistance to all trans* Medicaid recipients;
– That the State cannot deny coverage to trans* Medicaid recipients for procedures that are available to non-trans (or cisgender) Medicaid recipients;
– That trans* Medicaid recipients under the age of 21 are entitled to certain Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment as specified by the Medicaid Act and federal regulations;
– And finally, that failure to provide trans-related health care constitutes sex discrimination, which is prohibited by the Affordable Care Act.
SRLP, Legal Aid Society and Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP will continue to fight for the right to Medicaid coverage for people under 21, and for the many procedures and treatments currently denied.
As always, we recognize that legal claims and State recognition are not liberation. But we also recognize that there are real and sincere barriers to our survival if we cannot access the necessary care we need to live our lives. Cruz v. Zucker is a lawsuit that, at its heart, concerns our basic ability to survive as New Yorkers. We continue to struggle with all of you and be excited by the many ways we will continue to uplift the voices and experiences of trans* and gender non-conforming people on Medicaid, and the voices of those who are excluded from Medicaid, as we continue in this litigation.
Please keep checking back on our site to learn more about an upcoming city-wide action taking place July 23 to address issues facing trans* and gender non-conforming communities.
The Court’s order is below. The Court has indicated that it will issue an opinion explaining its reasoning, and when that is published we will certainly let everyone know.