Illinois Transwoman Refused Medical Care Because Religious Freedom

Naya Taylor found out that her primary care physician, Aja Lystila, considered her to be less than human.  When Taylor requested the start of hormone therapy in order to treat her gender dysphoria, Lystilla first claimed that she was not experienced enough to supervise the hormone therapy of  transgender person.  But the clinic in which Lystilla works provides hormone therapy to non-transgender patients every day.

Later the truth of the matter came out, when clinic staff told Taylor,

We don’t have to treat people like you.

When they said, ‘we don’t have to treat people like you,’ I felt like the smallest, most insignificant person in the world.  The doctor and office provide hormone replacement therapy for others at the same clinic, they just refused to do that for me.

-Naya Taylor

The Affordable Care Act is partially a civil rights law in that it prohibits health care providers that receive federal funds from discriminating against any individual on the basis of sex for the purpose of health care.

Taylor is being represented by Lambda Legal in a lawsuit filed on Tuesday charging Dr. Lystila and the Carle health care services group which operates the clinic with denying medical care.  Lambda Legal claims that discrimination based on sex extends to discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity, as per Title IX.

 photo Naya-Taylor_zps68e3f711.jpgTaylor requested HRT from Lystila in early 2013 but was rebuffed.  So Taylor purchased hormones online and began self-administering the drugs.  That is risky behavior.  In the fall of 2013 Taylor asked Lystila to perform blood work to check her hormone levels, but the doctor again refused.  When Taylor straight-forwardly requested a prescription for transition-related hormones in October of 2013 and was refused again, she contacted Lambda Legal.

Carle Group justified the actions because the clinic has Middle Eastern doctors with religious beliefs that inform them that they do not have to interact with transgender people because “religious freedom.”.

The case is Taylor v Lystila.


Naya Taylor is a transgender woman living in Mattoon, Illinois.  Dr. Aja Lystila had been Ms. Taylor’s primary care physician, but when Ms. Taylor asked to start hormone replacement therapy (HRT) as part of her medically necessary, transition-related health care to treat her gender dysphoria, Dr. Lystila refused.  Dr. Lystila first claimed she was not experienced in providing hormones to transgender people even though hormone therapy is regularly provided to non-transgender patients in a variety of settings every day.  Later the clinic told Ms. Taylor that it “does not have to treat people like you.”  HRT is one of the vital life-saving treatments used to treat gender dysphoria, a recognized, serious medical condition.

The Affordable Care Act is the first federal civil rights law to prohibit health care providers that receive federal funds, such as Dr. Lystila’s medical practice, from discriminating against any individual on the basis of sex for purpose of providing health services.  That prohibition extends to discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity, regardless of the actual or perceived gender identity of the individuals involved.

The provisions of the Affordable Care Act are clear – doctors receiving federal funds cannot discriminate in providing patient care just because a person is transgender.  Patients such as Naya Taylor place their health and well-being in a doctor’s hands.  Taylor asked for her doctor to provide services similar to those provided to other clinic patients who are not transgender and the doctor and clinic refused, posing a significant risk to Ms. Taylor’s health.  The ACA’s non-discrimination provisions were intended to ensure appropriate medical care for transgender people, a community that already faces a disproportionate amount of discrimination, violence and suicide rates.

-Kenneth Upton, Senior Counsel for Lambda Legal

Studies have revealed that 19% of transgender people have been refused health care on the basis of our gender identity.  Half of us have had to teach our medical provider how to provide our care.  And 28% of us have postponed health care when sick or injured for fear of being discriminated against.

1 comment

    • Robyn on April 19, 2014 at 00:03

    …(rather than professional, because the behavior is anything but professional) is definitely not unusual.  I’ve experienced it myself.  I saw an endocrinologist after having my thyroid irradiated and as soon as she discovered I was a transsexual woman, she suddenly became unable to consider me a patient in need of help.  And this was in New Jersey…where I supposedly have rights equal to anyone.

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