HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Thursday, October 8, 2020

The Intersection between Disability and LGBT Discrimination and Marginalization

Victoria Rodríguez-Roldán, The Intersection between Disability and LGBT Discrimination and Marginalization, 28 (3) Am. U. J. Gender 2 (2020):

In February of 2016, Kayden Clarke, a 24-year old autistic, transgender man in Mesa, Arizona, allegedly experienced a suicidal crisis. As a result, a friend or an acquaintance had reached out to the Mesa Police Department, leading to officers conducting a welfare check. By the end of the incident, Kayden had died, having been shot by the police officers, alleging that Clarke had threatened them with a knife In a tragic irony, Kayden died by the very individuals whose official stated goal was to check on his well- being. What led Kayden to his crisis was his health provider’s decision to deny access to gender-affirming care for his transition because of his diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. Kayden is not alone in any of the various identities that made his life unique and irreplaceable as a human being. Almost half of the people that die at the hands of police have been reported as having some kind of disability.

Further, fifty-eight percent of transgender individuals surveyed with a prior interaction with law enforcement had experienced mistreatment as a result of their transgender identity. Like Kayden, many transgender individuals have faced discrimination in health care that is inextricably linked to both their transgender identity and their disability. This is especially true of LGBTQ+ people with mental health, intellectual, and developmental disabilities (I/DD). The mistreatment of both individuals with disabilities and LGBTQ+ individuals is not a new phenomenon. Indeed, among the many things that leading to officers conducting a welfare check.1 By the end of the incident, Kayden had died, having been shot by the police officers, alleging that Clarke had threatened them with a knife. In a tragic irony, Kayden died by the very individuals whose official stated goal was to check on his well- being. What led Kayden to his crisis was his health provider’s decision to deny access to gender-affirming care for his transition because of his diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. Kayden is not alone in any of the various identities that made his life unique and irreplaceable as a human being. Almost half of the people that die at the hands of police have been reported as having some kind of disability. Further, fifty-eight percent of transgender individuals surveyed with a prior interaction with law enforcement had experienced mistreatment as a result of their transgender identity. Like Kayden, many transgender individuals have faced discrimination in health care that is inextricably linked to both their transgender identity and their disability. This is especially true of LGBTQ+ people with mental health, intellectual, and developmental disabilities (I/DD). The mistreatment of both individuals with disabilities and LGBTQ+ individuals is not a new phenomenon.

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