Today, a full panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit heard arguments in two cases involving equal access to health care for transgender people. State officials in North Carolina and West Virginia previously appealed to the Fourth Circuit victories secured by Lambda Legal and co-counsel that found the states’ denial of gender-affirming care to be discriminatory and unconstitutional.
The cases included: Kadel v. Folwell, a challenge to the North Carolina state employee health plan’s exclusion of gender-affirming care represented by Lambda Legal, the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF), McDermott, Will & Emery, and HWG LLP; as well, Fain v. Crouch, a challenge to the West Virginia Medicaid program’s exclusion of gender-affirming surgery, brought by Lambda Legal, Nichols Kaster PLLP, and The Employment Law Center PLLP.
The lead lawyer on both lawsuits, Lambda Legal Senior Counsel Tara Borelli, released the following statement:
“It is disappointing that state officials in North Carolina and West Virginia have chosen to double-down on the discriminatory denial of medically necessary, evidence-based care for transgender state employees and Medicaid recipients, respectively.
“Today, we had the opportunity to make the case that the trial court in these cases came to right conclusion, to urge the Fourth Circuit to confirm that denying gender-affirming care is discriminatory and unconstitutional, and to underscore the true harm that reversing these decisions would have on the lives and health of transgender people across both states.”
TLDEF Legal Director, David Brown, released the following statement:
“Transgender health care is health care. North Carolina denied transgender employees access to the same medically necessary care that was available to other state employees. We hope the full Fourth Circuit will affirm the lower court’s decision that these exclusions that single out transgender people are discriminatory and unlawful.”
Lambda Legal Counsel and Health Care Strategist, Omar Gonzalez-Pagan released the following statement:
“Everyone, including transgender people, should have access to quality, safe, and medically necessary health care.
“Gender-affirming medical care is evidence-based, safe, and effective; it is not experimental, contrary to what North Carolina and West Virginia are claiming in a clear attempt to continue discriminating against transgender people. Decades of scientific and medical research as well as clinical experience, overwhelmingly support our understanding that gender-affirming care significantly improves the overall health and wellbeing of transgender people.
“Denying gender-affirming medical care, by contrast, has detrimental effects on the health and well-being of transgender people, and has been shown to contribute to depression, isolation, self-harm and suicidal ideation. And this is what North Carolina and West Virginia state officials are advocating for by seeking to prohibit coverage for and access to this care.
“Health care decisions belong to patients, their families, and their doctors, not to politicians. We hope that the court of appeals recognizes, just as the trial courts here did, how critical gender-affirming medical care is for transgender people and how unlawful these states actions are.”
This is the second time that the Fourth Circuit heard oral arguments in Fain and Kadel, but this time by all the court’s judges instead of a three-judge panel. A three-judge panel heard oral argument in Kadel last January, and in Fain in March. A few months later, the Fourth Circuit announced that it would rehear argument in both cases together en banc.
To learn more about Kadel v. Folwell, visit here: Kadel v. Folwell – Lambda Legal
To learn more about Fain v. Crouch, visit here: Fain v. Crouch – Lambda Legal