Health Reform and Implementation of the ACA

WWH has specialized staff with expertise to educate consumers, help consumers consider their insurance options, and enroll consumers in health insurance, both public and exchange-based coverage.  Navigators also help consumers understand how to use their insurance, what costs they may incur and how to reduce out of pocket costs, and how to remain linked to a health home.  With our expertise, WWH was chosen to design and lead all training for the DC Health Link Assisters / Navigators for the DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority and in partnership with Families USA and Institute for Public Health Innovation.

Protections from Discrimination

WWH lawyers counsel persons living with HIV, and members of the LGBT community, on their legal rights in the workplace; their rights to appropriate, non-discriminatory health care; and other legal protections from discrimination based on HIV status, sexual orientation, and gender identity.  We represent clients in negotiations with employers, insurance companies, health care providers, educational institutions and others; and pursue claims at the EEOC, the DC Office of Human Rights, and other civil rights agencies.  In appropriate cases, we partner with law firms to litigate discrimination cases in court.  One of our priorities is to remedy discrimination against transgender and gender nonconforming individuals, including challenging exclusions of transition-related care in health insurance plans.

SSI/SSDI Applications and Appeals

WWH assists clients with initial applications for disability and with appeals of denials.  We also partner with the DC Bar Pro Bono Program to connect clients in need of appeal assistance with volunteer attorneys.  Our staff offers mentor services to those volunteer attorneys.   From this page, you can download our attorney guides for handling claims.


We assist clients from all over the world pursue immigration relief in the United States based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or HIV status.  From this page, you can download our most recent training slides about handling transgender asylum claims.

Name Changes and Gender Changes in Legal Documents

We assist clients from DC, Maryland and Virginia with obtaining name changes and gender marker changes on their legal documents.  From this page, you can access copies of our name change guides for each jurisdiction, along with our guide to updating your passport.

We also offer a Name and Gender Change Clinic every other month, where trained attorneys meet one-on-one with clients to provide counseling and assistance with the name and gender change processes, including obtaining court orders, changing drivers’ licenses, passports, birth certificates, and other identity documents and public records. We will also help clients to collect needed letters from their medical providers and to seek assistance with court fees, where appropriate. Having identity documents, Social Security, and other legal records that accurately reflect one’s actual name and gender is critical for a transgender individual, who lives with pervasive stigma and misunderstanding, who frequently encounters discrimination in employment, medical care, and housing, and who faces harassment from police and other officials. Whitman-Walker Health Legal Services Program recognizes and appreciates the Trans Legal Advocates of Washington for their collaboration in support of this critical legal service.

Clients are served on a walk-in basis and no appointment is necessary, but clients are encouraged to RSVP to Lee Hicks at 202.939.7627 or via e-mail for more information.

See bottom of this page for links to our name and gender change guides.

Medicare Part D

October 15 – December 7 is “open season”/ “open enrollment” to change your or your loved one’s Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.  We are assisting consumers conduct a Medicare Part D “check-up.”

There are important changes:

  • Some drug plans are not going to be available in 2018.
  • Some plans are changing the list of drugs that they are covering.
  • Some plans are changing their costs.

We have trained pro bono attorneys to assist consumers with this important plan review.  We appreciate the pro bono help from the many attorneys providing service.

Planning for the Future

Healthcare and financial planning for the future are important steps for everyone to take, no matter your health status or financial position.  Healthcare planning can include giving a person permission to be involved in your current care, deciding who would make decisions for you in an emergency, and instructing future medical providers how you would like to be cared for in an emergency.  Financial planning can include creating a general power of attorney that gives someone certain rights to manage your finances immediately as well as creating a will that says what should happen after you pass away.  Whitman-Walker’s attorneys can help you create all the documents you need to ensure your family and friends have the legal rights you want them to have now, and that you are prepared for whatever the future might bring.

Future planning is especially important for LGBT individuals.  Statistically, LGBT people are more likely to be single and childless, and thus less likely to have someone to whom healthcare decision-making authority, and rights to inheritance, would legally fall without executing documents.  Additionally, many LGBT people who are estranged from their families or who would not want their families to make medical and financial decisions for them need to plan ahead to make sure their “family of choice” is recognized.  Having documents in place can also prevent discriminatory treatment.  For example, while a hospital should in theory permit you to have any visitor you would like, an anti-LGBT bias might prevent them from allowing your same-sex partner; having a healthcare power of attorney would likely prevent this discriminatory outcome.  Finally, advance healthcare planning can be particularly useful for transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals as it allows them to specify how their gender identity should be affirmed and their gender expression maintained in the event of incapacitation or death.

  • Guide to tailoring healthcare planning documents to meet the needs of LGBT individuals, available here
  • Why healthcare planning is important for LGBT individuals, available here
  • Story on making healthcare planning work for queer families of choice, available here
  • Basics of healthcare planning for LGBT individuals, available here

Services for Older Adults

Just as Whitman-Walker’s medical team help keep you physically healthy as you age, Legal Services can make sure that your legal and financial health remain as strong as ever.  Older adults face many of the same legal issues as do people of all ages, but also some challenges that will be new for many people – for example, transitioning to Medicare, understanding retirement benefits, considering long-term care options, getting future planning documents in order, and finding services for older adults.  These issues can be especially complicated for older adults who are LGBT or who are living with HIV.  Our legal team can help you work through these concerns and make sure you live with the security, dignity, and respect you deserve.

At Whitman-Walker, we are especially attuned to the challenges that LGBT people and people living with HIV face as they age.  For LGBT individuals, this can include encountering discrimination in accessing long-term care, senior housing, senior services, or other programs for older adults; needing to take additional steps to have their “families of choice” recognized in a culture biased towards marriage and multi-generational families; and ensuring that they understand the constantly-evolving situation of same-sex marriage and domestic partnerships, and how their relationships will affect their access to services and benefits as they age.  For people living with HIV, these special areas of concern can include discrimination in accessing these same care, housing, and social service programs, as well as making sure the unique medical issues that can come with HIV do not compromise their access to quality care.

  • Guide for LGBT individuals 50+ in DC, linked below
  • Housing discrimination guide for LGBT older adults, linked below
  • Guide to tailoring healthcare planning documents to meet the needs of LGBT individuals, available here
  • Why healthcare planning is important for LGBT individuals, available here
  • Basics of healthcare planning for LGBT individuals, available here
  • Flier on Whitman-Walker’s elder law services, available here
  • Whitman-Walker’s recommendations to the Age-Friendly DC Task Force, available here

Medical-Legal Partnership

Whitman-Walker Health is proud to be one of the nation’s oldest medical-legal partnerships.  In conjunction with the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership at George Washington University, we are constantly exploring ways to improve the health of our clients by partnership with health and wellness services.