The Trump administration proposed revoking Obama-era discrimination protections for transgender people in health care today, a move LGBT groups fear will result in some Americans being denied needed medical treatment.
The Health and Human Services Department released a proposed regulation that in effect says “gender identity” is not protected under federal laws that prohibit sex discrimination in health care.
It fits into a backdrop of administration actions to limit or move back some of the new recognition for LGBT people in areas ranging from military service to housing.
The Trump administration proposed revoking Obama-era discrimination protections for transgender people in health care today, a move LGBT groups fear will result in some Americans being denied needed medical treatment. (Getty)
“The actions today are part and parcel of this administration’s efforts to erase LGBTQ people from federal regulations and to undermine nondiscrimination protections across the board,” said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, a senior attorney on health care at Lambda Legal, a civil rights organisation representing LGBT people.
But the HHS official overseeing the writing of the new regulation said transgender patients would continue to be protected by other federal laws that bar discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age and disability.
“Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect,” said Roger Severino, who heads the HHS Office for Civil Rights.
“We intend to fully enforce federal laws that prohibit discrimination.”
Asked about the charge that the administration has opened the door to discrimination against transgender people seeking needed medical care of any type, Mr Severino responded, “I don’t want to see that happen”.
The Trump administration’s proposed rule reverses the Obama administration, which concluded that the Affordable Care Act’s anti-discrimination section does indeed protect transgender people seeking health care services.
Today’s action had been expected by activists on both sides of the nation’s social issues divide.
Mr Trump’s religious conservative base has argued that the Obama administration stretched the meaning of “sex discrimination” when it included gender identity as a protected class. Civil rights and LGBT groups say that view is logically and legally flawed.
The proposed rule change is unlikely to have immediate consequences beyond the realm of political and legal debate. It faces a 60-day comment period and another layer of review before it can be finalised. Court challenges are expected.