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Patrice Peck - April 2022
Activist Tanya Asapansa-Johnson Walker has gone through two rounds of treatment for lung cancer. While at a major New York City hospital following an intense surgery to remove part of her lung, she experienced discrimination and lack of nursing care due to her existence as a trans woman. She was continually misgendered and “treated like an animal” being left in diarrhea all day.
Discrimination like this happens across the country, with 29 states lacking protections for LGBTQ+ people. The Equality Act passed the House of Representatives in 2021, but has stalled in the Senate. If passed, it would expand current civil rights laws that protect on the basis of race, color, and national origin to explicitly outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
For over three decades, Walker has advocated and fought for the rights of LGBTQ+ people. Starting as a student organizer at the College of Staten Island, she is currently a plaintiff in an ongoing case with the Human Rights Campaign fighting against President Trump’s anti-transgender policies. “Without the Equality Act, a lot of us are not out about who and what we are or about who we love,” she said. “Some of us are not living our truth because we could be banned from or mistreated in schools or fired from our job. We might not receive housing or adequate access to good credit, decent health care, or culturally competent substance abuse treatment centers. Passing this bill will boost the self-esteem of the LGBTQ community and help address other important mental health issues. And it’ll require cultural competency training in health care, education, business, and beyond. More people will be allowed to be out and proud in society.”
The Supreme Court ruled in 2020 that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects LGBTQ+ employees against discrimination. But, there are no laws guaranteeing these protections, which could be restricted with state level legislation, or walked back by the court. Without proper medical care or housing, LGBTQ+ cancer patients/survivors face additional challenges performing to their full potential in the workplace.
Read more about Tanya Aspansa-Johnson Walker’s story here.
Original source: www.cosmopolitan.com