RALEIGH, N.C. — Equality North Carolina, a statewide LGBT advocacy organization, is praising new changes in North Carolina’s Hospital Patient’s Bill of Rights.

The change, which took effect Jan. 1, prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity. The group had previously won changes to secure anti-discrimination measures on the basis of sexual orientation and visitation for same-sex couples.

“The updated non-discrimination rule in the Patient’s Bill of Rights will help ensure that transgender patients know their rights and health care providers know they must provide the same level of care to all patients regardless of their gender identity,” Ian Palmquist, Equality North Carolina’s executive director, said in a release.

Equality NC’s Transgender Policy Task Force has identified healthcare discrimination as a top priority for transgender North Carolinians. The task force worked with Equality North Carolina staff to secure the recent policy changes, which included petitioning to change the state’s administrative code last summer and working through a public comment period. The policy changes received unanimous approval from the Medical Care Commission and the Rules Review Commission.

The updated anti-discrimination rules also replaced the outdated term “sexual preference” with “sexual orientation.”

“This victory builds on our 2008 success in getting visitation protections in North Carolina hospitals, which became a model for the recent federal rule on hospital visitation right,” said Palmquist. “We applaud the Medical Care Commission and the Perdue administration for their ongoing commitment to treating patients of all sexual orientations and gender identities fairly and appropriately.”

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.