Transgender, Reproductive, and Fertility Care: The Fight for Health Care Equality and Bodily Autonomy 

GLAD has been on the forefront of safeguarding bodily autonomy for decades – and that is critical in this legislative session for transgender people, people who can get pregnant, and LGBTQ+ people who need fertility care. Health care equity work also aims to address the barriers to safe, quality medical care disproportionately affects people of color and low-income individuals as well. These disparities underscore the urgent need to address systemic inequalities and ensure that everyone has equal access to essential health care services. 

In the face of escalating threats to transgender health care, GLAD remains vigilant in its defense of trans people’s rights to safe, essential care. Across legal battles in multiple states, GLAD is at the forefront, challenging discriminatory laws and advocating for the rights of transgender youth and adults alike. In Florida federal court, our attorney Jennifer Levi argued at a hearing in December to protect access to transgender people in Doe v. Ladapo, and in June the court ruled to permanently block that unconstitutional law. In Boe v. Marshall, GLAD is supporting transgender youth and their families in need of essential care after the court allowed a health care ban to take effect in January. And GLAD has also submitted opposition briefs against similar laws in Tennessee and Kentucky in L.W. v. Skrmetti and Doe v. Thornbury at the 6th Circuit Appellate Court (which will be heard at the Supreme Court later this year), and others in Oklahoma. Our opposition is committed, strategic, and well-funded, but we rely on our decades-long experience, which has won the day. 

In the legislative arena, we are advocating for shield bills designed to protect trans and other vital health care access amidst mounting attacks. We’ve advocated successfully for these crucial bills in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont in previous sessions, and most recently in Maine and Rhode Island. There are currently laws or executive orders protecting care providers in 14 states and Washington, DC. While these bills shield providers and the patients’ families against prosecution for care legal in these states, hostile outside forces like Libs of TikTok have been spreading misinformation and fear to slow the passage of these vital protections. 

Health care access struggles are interconnected. States had been chipping away at abortion access years before the Dobbs decision which overturned Roe v. Wade, but after the ruling, access fell precipitously. And this crucial care is still being brought in front of our higher courts – the Supreme Court Justices heard oral arguments in March, when a team of anti-abortion medical providers called into question the FDA-approved medication mifepristone, which is used to administer abortions for over 60 percent of US patients. In June, the Justices threw out the lawsuit without ruling on the merits of the case, ensuring continued access to the drug. 

And earlier this year, the Alabama Supreme Court delivered a shocking ruling that declared embryos created through in vitro fertilization (IVF) should be considered children. Alabama fertility clinics shut down IVF services for weeks, and sowed concern for people across the country who want to build their family with this treatment. The need to protect access and providers is starkly clear. 

Access to safe, patient-centered care is a fundamental right that we must fight for every day. By advocating for the autonomy of patients and care providers in medical decision-making, GLAD is dedicated to ensuring people can access the care they need. Whether it’s affirming gender identity, seeking abortion care, or pursuing assisted reproduction, GLAD stands as a steadfast ally in the fight for health care access and bodily autonomy. 

Dedicated commitment to health care equity and patient rights is more than just about a single appointment or procedure – it’s about safeguarding the well-being and dignity of all. As threats to health care access persist, we are resolute in advocating for comprehensive protections that uphold the principle of bodily autonomy for everyone. 

A version of this story was originally published in the Summer 2024 GLAD Briefs newsletter. Read more.