Oli Rodriguez is a transgender man who hopes to carry a child and become a father in the near future.
Following news that President Donald Trump rolled back protections inscribed in the Affordable Care Act, however, Rodriguez said he worries for both the future and his health. He worries for his future child and his safety during his trans pregnancy. On top of that, there's still a global pandemic. Rodriguez is one of the thousands of LGBTQ individuals grappling with the frightening drawbacks of Trump's decision.
"The government should stay out of it; there shouldn't be discrimination in terms of healthcare whatsoever," said Rodriguez. "Also we're in a pandemic. So, having folks unable to get access to care right now is a human rights violation. Don't cut access to care through a pandemic. Don't do it on the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting. Don't do it during Pride Month."
Rodriguez relies on facilities like Howard Brown Health, which offers medical and social service programs for thousands of patients each year.
"We provide care in areas of primary care, mental health, behavioral health, psychiatry, workforce development, transgender and gender non-conforming services, and services that are around for support for individuals that are experiencing homelessness," Howard Brown Health Director of Strategic Partnerships Channyn Parker told Windy City Times.
Transgender patients typically prefer doctors who understand their situation and cater to their medical needs. However, LGBTQ-rights activists contend that the rollback will make many LGBTQ individuals' pursuit of reliable healthcare a more difficult process. Additionally, they say the administration's pushback will make it more difficult for women to safely access abortions.
"What does scare me with the Trump administration dismantling these types of protections is that this leads the Department of Health and Human Services to the authority to interpret what they feel Affordable Care Act provisions are. That's what's scary," said Parker. "So, if there is anything that directly affects the organization, that could be it right there."
Rodriguez has visited Howard Brown for 20 years. "I love my doctor; I only have great things to say about them," he said. "I really support the work they are doing and the programs they have and how much they have expanded."
Despite this, Rodriguez is looking elsewhere for care during his pregnancy, invoking concern for obtaining the right kind of treatment that he is used to. As he is on the trajectory for pregnancy, he acknowledged that his problems may be more difficult for someone living in a rural state with fewer options than his typical back-and-forth abodes in Illinois and California.
"I would be using their services if COVID-19 wasn't happening right now. Howard Brown is where I got hormone therapy. I would've been using their service, but I'm also trying to use the whole scope of services," said Rodriguez. "I was going to use them with assisted help before the pregnancy. I'll also go there for meds, like when I got sick this winter. I love my doctor there."
Trump's rollback, Rodriguez added, "seems like complete erasure in terms of the fact that we're all human.Let's just get the care that we need. It's not that difficult."