Trump’s HHS Denies Protections to Transgender People Seeking Health Care

For some of us unfortunately, it’s not palpable until it’s personable. The limitations, discrimination, hatred toward fellow members of our rainbow community, and our human community must. not. be.  Will this newest outrage from the Trump Administration go on deaf ears? We LGB-ers may be next. 

On Friday, June 12th, 2020, the new US. Department of Health and Human Services rule strips protections for transgender people seeking access to health care. When looking for health care in 2020, many of us have the ability to Google possible doctors and see if they’re one of us.  We like to see if they can handle the chatter about being gay, PrEP, HIV, etc. Of course PrEP/HIV knowledge should be had by all physicians, but we do feel a little more comfortable if we know our doctor flies the rainbow flag in their office and in their heart.  But have you been denied health care because you are a lesbian, a gay man, or a bisexual? And what if you Googled for days and could not find anyone in your city, county, or region that might be a fellow friend of Dorothy?

Of course we all do not need to go to LGBTQ+ doctors, but doing so does provide a huge mental safety net for when you want to be open as possible and not fear being judged because the physician has extremely different religious/political/cultural beliefs.

But what if you were to approach a doctor and he said NO, you’re gay … NO, your’e a lesbian … NO, you’re bisexual. This is a reality now for our Transgender citizens.


GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, criticized the Trump administration’s new rule stripping federal nondiscrimination protections for transgender people seeking access to health care. The implementation of this new rule comes on the fourth year remembrance of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, which claimed the lives of 49 people in what is known as the deadliest attack on LGBTQ Americans. 

The rule, finalized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Friday, no longer recognizes gender identity as a protected class under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which established that it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of “race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability in certain health programs and activities.” The Obama administration announced in 2016 that within Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, protections from discrimination on the basis of sex also applied to gender identity.

“On [June 12th,] a day the world remembers and mourns the 49 lives lost in a senseless attack on our community four years ago in Orlando, the Trump administration has decided to continue its campaign to further discriminate and attack LGBTQ Americans, specifically transgender people. This ruling encourages discrimination by stripping protections from LGBTQ people, disabled people, and others during a pandemic that threatens the most vulnerable. It is shameful, unnecessary, and unfortunately unsurprising. This is the 150th attack and counting against LGBTQ Americans from this cruel administration.” – GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis

The new HHS ruling could affect the more than 1.4 million estimated  transgender Americans, at a time of uncertainty over health care during the coronavirus pandemic, and as transgender people face an increasing number of violent attacks on their lives and in some cases, their very right to exist. The June 12th ruling marks the 150th attack and counting by Trump Administration against LGBTQ+ Americans.  GLAAD’s Trump Accountability Project documents anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and policies under the Trump Administration. The list is available here: https://www.glaad.org/tap/donald-trump


…no longer recognizes gender identity as a protected class under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which established that it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of “race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability in certain health programs and activities.”

I placed this bolded statement above to stress that the law’s actual words have not been changed to reflect sexual orientation.  Below is an except from a 2006 law article which states:

While Title VII does not specifically prohibit discrimination based upon sexual preference or gender identity, the cases discussed above indicate that courts are giving sex discrimination a broader application than has previously existed. Without any change by Congress in the language of the law, courts are now demonstrating an increased willingness to afford protection from discrimination based upon gender identity.

Once again the above was from 2006 and not involving health care, but Title VII.  Let me highlight this little phrase from above – courts are giving sex discrimination a broader application than has previously existed.  The courts from 2006 no longer apply and now we have the Trump-appointed bench warmers to interpret the laws.  Will we go back to having the word sex be defined strictly by Webster’s as male and female?  Or will we hold our breath and hope the interpretation will still include sexual orientation. There’s no telling if we are next in Trump’s health care non-protections.

Not only do we need to take action against this new HHS ruling for it is morally wrong, if we do not stand against it, who is to say that we LBG-ers are not the next group to lose our protections based on a choice of how a word is interpreted?

UPDATE:

The Supreme Court’s decision Monday June 15th that backed LGBT employment rights will most likely have an effect on other legal battles involving anti-discrimination provisions in other federal laws and especially new ones stirred up by the Trump administration and their alteration of policies. The SCOTUS decided, 6-3, that firing someone merely for being gay or transgender is discrimination based on “sex” in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The most applicable may be the Trump Administration’s rule just solidified on Friday June 12th where it was stated that sexual orientation would no longer be covered by a provision of the 2010 health care law that prohibits discrimination based on sex.

Civil rights groups are all but certain to cite Monday’s Supreme Court decision in future challenges to Trump’s new health care debacle. 


Sources: sgrlaw.com , GLAAD Statement

What do you think?