Lambda Legal Mourns the Loss of Transgender Client Naya Taylor

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June 26, 2014

Late last Friday Lambda Legal received word that its client, Naya Taylor, unexpectedly passed away after complications from a heart attack.

Lambda Legal was representing Ms. Taylor, a transgender woman, in an unrelated federal discrimination lawsuit because she had been denied medical care that is routinely provided to non-transgender patients.

Christopher Clark Counsel in Lambda Legal’s Midwest Regional Office based in Chicago, said:

We are deeply saddened by Naya’s death and send our sympathy to her family and friends. She was a passionate advocate for the transgender community and we are incredibly proud to have represented her in her fight to be respected as a transgender woman seeking routine medical care.

Naya Taylor contacted Lambda Legal after her doctor refused a request for hormone replacement therapy. Transgender people face staggering amounts of discrimination in health care settings on a daily basis, but Ms. Taylor recognized the unique challenges in accessing health care transgender people who live in rural areas face.

M. Dru Levasseur, Lambda Legal’s Transgender Rights Project Director, said:

To our knowledge, Naya’s case was the country’s first transgender discrimination case filed under the Affordable Care Act. Naya was a proud transgender woman who spoke out to make sure no one is turned away from needed health care due to bias and discrimination. I am devastated to learn of her passing. We will honor Naya’s life by continuing to fight health care discrimination against all transgender people.


Dr. Aja Lystila, based in Mattoon, IL,  had been Ms. Taylor’s primary care physician, but when Ms. Taylor requested to start hormone replacement therapy (HRT) as part of her medically necessary, transition-related healthcare to treat her gender dysphoria, Dr. Lystila refused. Dr. Lystila first claimed she was not experienced in providing hormones to transgender people even though hormone therapy is regularly provided to non-transgender patients in a variety of settings every day. Later the clinic told Ms. Taylor that it “does not have to treat people like you.”  HRT is one of the vital life-saving treatments used to treat gender dysphoria, a recognized, serious medical condition.

The Affordable Care Act is the first federal civil rights law to prohibit health care providers that receive federal funds, such as Dr. Lystila’s medical practice, from discriminating against any individual on the basis of sex for purpose of providing health services. That prohibition extends to discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity, regardless of the actual or perceived gender identity of the individuals involved.

When Lambda Legal filed the case Naya Taylor said:

When they said, ‘we don’t have to treat people like you,’ I felt like the smallest, most insignificant person in the world. The doctor and office provide hormone replacement therapy for others at the same clinic, they just refused to do that for me.

For more information about the case click here.

Read the press release.