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The Trump administration is planning to introduce rules to strip transgender patients of nondiscrimination protections, multiple news outlets reported Wednesday.
The rules would essentially hollow out protections guaranteed to LGBTQ people by the Affordable Care Act, the Washington Post reported. Under the purported policies, health care providers and insurance companies would be able to invoke religious reasons to deny trans individuals treatment and coverage.
The new policies are expected within 10 days, according to Politico.
The Trump administration’s plan to rewrite the rules apparently hinges on the definition of the word “sex.” The Affordable Care Act banned discrimination based on “sex,” and under President Barack Obama, the Department of Health and Human Services interpreted “sex” to include gender identity and, thus, transgender individuals.
But in 2016, a Texas judge issued a nationwide temporary injunction that blocked that provision of the Affordable Care Act, after multiple groups said it violated their religious beliefs and filed lawsuits. The Trump administration also contends that the Obama administration went too far. Earlier this month, lawyers for the Trump administration agreed with the Texas ruling, writing in a memo in the case, “The United States has returned to its longstanding position that the term ‘sex’ in Title VII does not refer to gender identity.”
Under Trump, HHS has reportedly sought to remove federal civil rights protections for trans people by erasing their very existence. It’s encouraged agencies to define “gender” “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective, and administrable,” according to a memo obtained by the New York Times. And as of earlier this month, it’s officially banned trans soldiers from serving in the military.
HHS declined to comment to Politico about any potential new rules, thanks to the litigation and confidential nature of the rulemaking process. However, spokesperson Cailtin Oakley told the outlet, “HHS is committed to fully and vigorously enforcing all of the civil rights laws entrusted to us by Congress, to ensure that people are not subject to unlawful discrimination in HHS programs and in the provision of health and human services.”
Transgender people say their health care providers frequently discriminate against them just for being trans, according to HHS complaints obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the liberal-learning Center for American Progress. Nearly a quarter of the 34 complaints obtained by the group alleged that the complainant had been denied care because of their gender identity — not because the care was related to their transition.
In a study published Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers also found that trans people were more likely to be current smokers, sedentary, and uninsured.
“This study shows that being a transgender person in the U.S. today — being transgender in a society that you know doesn’t fully accept you — is hard,” Kellan Baker, the study’s lead researcher and a scholar at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told the medical news website Medical Research. “It affects your health in negative ways, and that’s why issues such as nondiscrimination protections for transgender people are public health issues.”
On Monday, the Supreme Court also announced that it would rule on whether the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also protects LGTBQ people from workplace discrimination. The Trump administration, unsurprisingly, has argued that the law doesn’t apply to discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Cover: At the "__Fight the Ban: A Rally to Support Transgender Troops" on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 in Washington. (Joy Asico/AP Images for Human Rights Campaign)