A trans woman was refused the COVID-19 vaccine. (Stock photograph via Elements Envato)
A trans woman in Oklahoma was denied the life-saving coronavirus vaccine because she had a “mismatched” identity document.
The resident, who has not been named, was turned away by the Logan County Health Department because her name did not match what was written on her ID card.
She sought to explain this administrative snag to healthcare officials – she was waiting on the paperwork, she claimed – but the department still refused, KOCO5 News reported.
Frustrated, the woman reached out to Freedom Oklahoma, Oklahoma’s sole statewide LGBT+ advocacy group, for help – and they were prepared for a fight.
Oklahoma vows to ‘rectify’ trans woman denied vaccine
Tweeting the Oklahoma State Department of Health, the group wrote: “Why is Logan Co Health Department turning away a trans woman trying to get a vaccine and telling us to take it up with the state?”
We are aware of the situation and working closely with Logan County Health Dept and Freedom Oklahoma to rectify it immediately. It is a top priority to ensure equity in our state’s public health system, including ensuring every Oklahoman has access to the COVID-19 vaccine.
— OK Dept of Health (@HealthyOklahoma) April 14, 2021
The department replied on 14 April that it is coordinating with both county health officials and activists to “rectify” what happened.
“It is a top priority to ensure equity in our state’s public health system, including ensuring every Oklahoman has access to the COVID-19 vaccine,” it added.
State officials later stressed that the incident was a one-time thing in a statement to activists.
“The equity of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution has always been paramount in the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s effort to vaccinate Oklahoma,” a spokesperson for the department said in a statement.
They have released the following statement regarding the incident.
Thank you again to everyone who lifted up this story. We look forward to working with the Dept to ensure all Oklahomans are given equitable access to the vaccine. https://t.co/t2RhsRqqfc pic.twitter.com/261tJ4klJ6
— Freedom Oklahoma (@FreedomOkla) April 16, 2021
“Unfortunately, a situation with a resident being denied a vaccine, due to a mismatched ID, at one of our county health departments was handled poorly.”
In Oklahoma, trans locals face an uphill climb all too common in the US to have their name and gender changed on identification documents.
Applicants must acquire a court order or note from a physician proving they have undergone gender-affirming surgery, according to the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety Name Change Information.
While more and more state legislators have cleaned up these confusing legal frameworks, making it easier to acquire accurate ID, roadblocks – and there are many – remain.
In the confusing patchwork of US states that allow trans people to update their documents – or not at all – the muddled system, at times, limits what kinds of services trans people can access.
But policymakers aren’t exactly lacking in reasons to iron out these processes.
According to a report from the Williams Institute, 42 per cent of trans people who are eligible to vote in 45 American states do not have accurate identification documents. Researchers estimate that’s more than 350,000 trans Americans.
Moreover, a trans person simply having a passport or birth certificate with the correct gender can drastically improve their mental health, a study found.
While many states do not offer a gender-neutral option for non-binary, gender nonconforming and intersex folk.