The attacks from this administration just do not stop.
On Friday, Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed a rule that seems calculated to have devastating effects on LGBTQ health care in the United States.
Roger Severino, who is the director of HHS’s Office of Civil Rights — and, probably not coincidentally, a known LGBTQ-rights opponent who has been called a “radical anti-LGBTQ activist” by the Human Rights Campaign — announced that under HHS’s proposed rule, the government would rescind Obama-era guidelines calling for Civil Rights Act protections “on the basis of sex” to be interpreted as applying to gender identity.
“When Congress prohibited sex discrimination, it did so according to the plain meaning of the term, and we are making our regulations conform,” Severino said, according to the Washington Post.
This change mirrors several other changes made by Trump’s cabinet since the 45th President took office, including in the Departments of Education and Justice. It comes only days after a proposed rule by the Department of Housing And Urban Development that would allow homeless shelters to refuse access to transgender people.
US Senator Patty Murray, the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Health, Labor, and Pensions Committee called this decision “blatantly harmful, discriminatory and wrong” in a statement.
“Patients don’t need the ideological judgment of President Trump, Vice President Pence, or anyone else for that matter—they need to know that when they seek the health care they need, they won’t be turned away because of who they are,” Murray stated.
Emilie Kao, director of the DeVos Center For Religion and Civil Society for right-wing think tank The Heritage Foundation, claimed in a statement that this ruling was necessary in order to protect the rights of doctors whose religious beliefs prohibited them from performing gender-reassignment surgeries or abortions.
“The Trump administration is right to revise Obamacare’s unlawful regulation that was blocked from taking effect by a federal court,” Kao stated. “It would have forced physicians to offer sex-reassignment procedures and abortions despite strong ethical and medical concerns.”
However, neither Kao nor the Trump administration has addressed the fact that this change could open the door for doctors to refuse even life-saving health care to a transgender person with critical injuries — as happened in 1995 to Tyra Hunter, a trans woman who’d been injured in a car accident. After discovering Hunter’s transgender status, EMTs and ER staff refused or gave inadequate health care, and Hunter died of her injuries as a result.
“Predicated on little more than prejudice, this proposal will abandon 2 million Americans who already face significant barriers to accessing adequate and life-saving health care,” said Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, in a statement.
“This is not about free health care or special treatment. It’s about the right of every American to be treated with dignity when they walk into an emergency room, meet a new doctor, or find the right insurance plan,” Keisling continued. “If permitted, this rule will promote ignorance and hate that no American should have to face while seeking care, and we are ready to fight it with everything we’ve got.”