The Trump administration has again shown its disdain for LGBTQ people, choosing to strip transgender Americans of health care equality on the anniversary of the Pulse Massacre and in the midst of international Pride Month.
On Friday, the US Department of Health and Human Services reversed a rule that ensured that the Affordable Care Act protects transgender people from being denied care in “any health program or activity” that receives federal financial assistance.
In 2016, the Obama administration specifically included gender identity in the definition of sex discrimination. The callous change announced by the Trump administration removes this so that the law no longer protects transgender people from discrimination by doctors, hospitals and health insurance companies.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest LGBTQ rights group in the US, responded that “we cannot and will not allow Donald Trump to continue attacking us.” It announced that it will sue the Trump administration “for exceeding their legal authority and attempting to remove basic health care protections from vulnerable communities including LGBTQ people.”
HRC President Alphonso David noted that “To add insult to injury, the administration finalised this rule on the anniversary of the Pulse shooting” in which a gunman killed 49 people in an LGBTQ nightclub on 12 June 2016.
“LGBTQ people get sick. LGBTQ people need health care,” David asserted. “LGBTQ people should not live in fear that they cannot get the care they need simply because of who they are. It is clear that this administration does not believe that LGBTQ people, or other marginalised communities, deserve equality under the law.”
The Trump administration has repeatedly attempted to restrict the definition of sex in anti-discrimination laws and policies from including transgender identities. It has further barred transgender personnel from serving in the military, also a reversal of an earlier Obama-era policy.
According to a report by the National Center for Transgender Equality, 23% of transgender respondents did not see a doctor when they needed to because of fear of being mistreated as a transgender person and a startling 55% of transgender respondents who sought coverage for transition-related surgery were denied.
“We will not let this attack on our basic right to be free from discrimination in health care go unchallenged,” said David. “We will see them in court, and continue to challenge all of our elected officials to rise up against this blatant attempt to erode critical protections people need and sanction discrimination.”
Several US courts have previously ruled that the definition of “sex” in anti-discrimination laws must include sex stereotyping and gender identity.