A formal proposal from the Trump administration Friday would roll back Obama-era protections for transgender people, which LGBT advocates warn could prompt health care providers to discriminate against transgender and gender-non-conforming people.
Roger Severino, the director of the Department of Health and Human Services, said the proposal would remove “gender identity” as a factor in laws prohibiting health care providers from discriminating against patients.
The rollback is a reversal of a provision in the 2016 Affordable Care Act, in which the Obama administration determined that laws banning sex discrimination in health care would also apply to transgender patients. It explicitly prohibited discrimination based on “gender identity,” which it defined as an “internal sense of gender, which may be male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female, and which may be different from an individual’s sex assigned at birth.”
The Trump administration’s proposal, however, would eliminate this language, which many LGBT advocates claim could make transgender patients more vulnerable to discriminatory treatment from health care providers. Such treatment is not uncommon, as evidenced by a case last year in which a CVS pharmacist refused to fill a transgender woman’s prescription for hormone therapy.
“This is cruel and essentialist, and just plain evil,” writer and LGBT rights advocate Charlie Jane Anders tweeted of the Trump administration’s proposal. “The end goal is to marginalize and dehumanize trans people, but the interim effect will just be to kill a lot of us by denying us access to basic health services.”
This is not the first time that the Trump administration has aimed to roll back Obama-era protections of transgender rights. In February 2017, the Education Department and the Justice Department reversed Obama-era guidelines on transgender students using public restrooms; last year, the US Department of Education confirmed to BuzzFeed News that the administration would no longer investigate complaints of civil rights violations from transgender people regarding public restroom use.
Also in 2017, the Trump administration issued a ban on transgender people in the military, with President Trump tweeting that the military “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.” The ban officially went into effect last April.