Chelsea Manning's Lawyer Delivers Powerful Message About Trans Health Care

"Just because it isn't health care you need or understand doesn't mean it isn't real and necessary for some."
Chase Strangio.
Chase Strangio.

Chase Strangio, a staff attorney with the ACLU and the lawyer who served as lead counsel for Chelsea Manning during her legal proceedings, has some thoughts about the way that we talk about health care coverage for transgender people.

With President Donald Trump set to ban transgender people from the military, the issue of federal health care benefits for trans people has become a topic of mainstream interest.

Strangio wants people to be conscious of the way they talk about ― and report on ― health care for trans people.

“There is a medical consensus that health care for transgender individuals, including health care related to gender transition, is medically necessary and cost-effective,” Strangio said in a statement to HuffPost. “For so long transgender individuals have had our health care denied, insurance coverage (both private and public) withheld, and indeed our lives jeopardized because people simply did not understand the nature and importance of our care.”

“How we talk about this care is critical because it informs the way in which people internalize the nature of the need,” Strangio continued. “It is easy to suggest that the care is experimental and/or cosmetic out of basic ignorance but that is not accurate and has been routinely debunked by science and medicine.”

The American Medical Association recently came out against Trump’s proposed transgender military ban, saying that his arguments aren’t “medically valid.”

Strangio added that a lot of the trepidation or misunderstanding about the necessity of health care for transgender people is rooted in confusion about the vast spectrum of human diversity. 

“The care is comparable to any other form of medically necessary treatment,” Strangio said. “Generally, people are afraid of and confused about the ideas of bodies and lives that don’t neatly conform to the way in which we are taught to think about sexed bodies and existence as lining up neatly as male or female. But trans bodies are beautiful and our health care is life-saving. We are all at risk once we start exempting from health systems care that is stigmatized or misunderstood.”